« 上一頁繼續 »
Consider then, O man, what a sad choice thou wilt make, if thou bestow all thy labour upon these things, which cannot profit thee in the day of wrath. Thou mayest now suppress the voice of wisdom, .which calls thee to a diligent discharge of thy duty, and stifle its salutary dictates: but the day will come, when it will hurst forth upon thy soul with energy and conviction not to be resisted: the day will come, when thou wilt look back with regret upon theopportunities thou hast lost: the day will come, when thou wilt lament the neglect or abuse of thy talents. Be wise then in time; and whatever be the work which Providence has allotted thee to do, do it with all thy might; knowing that he, who would look back with comfort upon past years, or forward with hope upon future ones, must suffer no moment to pass useless or unemployed.
Thus we see the words of the text are a call to every man to do his duty in his appointed station, to cultivate his talents, and improve his .time. This life is the only state of doing what our hand findeth to do. In the grave there is no exercise of knowledge, wisdom, or power; for there all the thoughts perish. There the device of the ingenious, and the knowledge pf the learned, are at an end: there the wisdom
of of the prudent is confounded, and the voice of the eloquent is dumb: there the joy that sparkles in the eye of pleasure, and the hope that pants in the bosom of ambition, is extinct: there too the time of trial expires, and, what is more, eternity begins; that eternity, which brings with it unchangeable happiness or misery.
And far off the grave cannot be from any of us: in the midst of life we are in death, and no man can say, that this very night or hour his soul may not be required. The same voice, which pronounced acclamations to the happy bridegroom in the morning, has, more than once, uttered in the evening, over the breathless, bride, the solemn sentence of "Earth to earth, "dust to dust, ashes to ashes." This therefore every man should keep steadily in view, as the great motive to action. It is not, indeed, necessary that we should always have the image of death before our eyes: life has its joys and its duties, which justly claim their share of attention from us: but our mortality should be a fixed and steady principle, and should never wander far from our thoughts. And far, one would think, it could not wander. It meets us, in every street and at every hour: the air we breathe, and the earth we tread upon, are full of it. Can we, therefore, want a monitor to
SERMON XXVII, 91
remind us, that the first great law of nature is, "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou "return?"
Delay not then, my friends, to work out your salvation, whilst it is called to-day. The days of darkness are coming, in which no man can work. Even before they come, sickness maj' cut the thread of life, or chance dethrone the powers of reason. NOr, even if this should not happen; if the eveningof life should steal on us by gentle gradations, and last long; little shall we then be able to work the work of salvation. The various evils of nature, the infirmities of a decrepid body, and the debility of a languid mind, will be enough for us to bear: sufficient to the day will be the evil thereof: wc need not add to it painful reflections upon our past follies, and the stinging reproaches of past guilt; we need not add the heavy load of re~ .penting old habits, and beginning new ones: it will be enough for us to collect the scattered fragments of human resolution, and to prepare for the great change that awaits us when the night is come.
But if we have been wise enough to do with our might whatever we found to do ;—if we are doomed to fall in the morning of youth, whilst
the heart of parental fondness beats high in our favour, and the eye of expectation was looking forward to distant scenes of reputation and honour;—or, if we are cut down in the meridian vigour of age, when domestic peace encircles our hours with joy, and the artless smiles of unsheltered innocence are pleading to us for protection and support;—however hard our lot may seem;—however we may disappoint the vanity of human expectation, we shall fall in the discharge of our duty, and may therefore depend upon being rewarded bji that God, who giveth to every man according to his work: and if our days be lengthened, we shall then have the pleasing reflection upon our past wisdom to console our present infirmities, and the joyful expectation of happiness to animate our future hopes;—we shall quit life, conscious of having discharged the business for which we came into it;—we shall descend to that grave, whither, we are all going, with the firm resolution of men, and the animated hope of Christians.
ON GOOD FRIDAY.
1 John iv. 9.
In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
ni^HE same apostle, in another place, tells -*- us, that God is love. And could any man want to be convinced of so clear a proposition, we need only refer him to the whole frame and constitution of nature around us. Wherever we turn our eyes, we meet the footsteps of a kind and indulgent Providence, the traces and signals of a God of universal love; even from the firsts moment of our birth to the present hour. From nothing he called us into existence: and with what view? Only that he might shower down upon us the riches of his goodness, and make us partakers of that happiness, which he enjoyed from all eternity.