图书图片
PDF
ePub

I add again, that sinners coming from heaven to earth would bring a miserable account of the glorified inhabitants of those regions. “We could find none there,” they would say, “whom we loved ; and none who loved us. We saw the Eternal on his throne, but his aspect was terrible. He seemed like a consuming fire. Every glance he gave us shot forth flashes, infinitely more awful than the lightnings of the sky.-We saw Christ there, surrounded by a great multitude which no man can number, and greeted with their loudest praises and their noblest songs; but in this exalted personage, there was nothing which to us appeared beautiful or lovely. Like a root out of dry ground, we saw no comeliness in him wherefore we should desire him. We saw angels there ; but the sight of them was painful. We envied their exaltation ; but we could not endure their society, and we hated their characters. We saw the spirits of the just made perfect there ; but these were no company for us. We could not love their persons, coincide with their feelings or unite in their employments.

And the inhabitants of heaven obviously loved us as little as we loved them. Every eye that met us, inet us with a frown. Every one seemed to shun us as a pestilence, and to regard us not merely with disapprobation, but with abhorrence. Living after this manner, among those whom we hated, and who hated us-living only to be frowned upon, slighted and abhorred; how could we enjoy one inoment's comfort ? Every object around us ceased to charm, and heaven became a hell.”

These reports have been given, my readers will understand, not for the purpose of pleasing their fancies, or gratifying their curiosity ; but with the more laudable design of impressing on them several important truths.

1. Our happiness and misery do not depend solely or principally on any circumstances of place. The sinner would be miserable, even in heaven.

Glorified spirits are happy in heaven, not merely because they dwell in the celestial regions, but because they are prepared to dwell there--because they are holy. And wicked spirits are miserable in hell, not merely because they are confined in the infernal prison, but because they have perfectly sinful hearts. The seeds of their torment they carry in their own bosoms.

While persons remain under the dominion of sin, God has no place in his immense dominions where they could be happy. Nor indeed do I consider it possible there should be such a place. It is no irreverent limitation of the power of Deity to assert, that he cannot make such persons happy, unless he changes their hearts, and makes them holy.

2. All mankind are not happy, immediately after death. It will not be pretended, that all persons are holy at death. Some die in a state of intoxication. Some die in the very act of suicide. Many are drowned in the midst of their wickedness. And thousands and millions have been slain in battle, while their minds were enebriated with passion, and their hearts swoln with rage. Respecting these characters, it might with great emphasis be asked, Is it likely they

are admitted, with all their sins upon their heads, to the holy habitation of angels, and the spirits of the just made perfect? Are they admitted to pass from the tippling shop, the brothel, and the field of blood, into those pure and glorious regions, where no unclean thing can ever enter ? But we will suppose they are. Can they be happy there? Can they unite in heavenly employments, or participate in heavenly joys ? The farthest from this imaginable! If what has been said is true, they would find heaven of all places the most undesirable, and the most dreadful.-It follows, that those who die in sin must be miserable hereafter. If they go to heaven, they are miserable there. If they go to hell, they are miserable there. Or if they go to any other place, their miseries will follow them, and the hand of justice overtake them.

3. " Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." He cannot because he never will be admitted to see it; and because, if he were, it would be no kingdom to him. God will never suffer his holy heaven to be polluted and disturbed by the presence of the ungodly; and if he should, they would find it a dreadful place. They would hate every thing, and every person ; and every person would hate them. They would be detested, shunned, solitary, and miserable. They might be even more miserable in heaven, than in any other place or world.

This then should be a fixed principle in the mind of every reader, * I must be born again. I must be a new creature. The unrenewed in vain shall strive to tread the heavenly ground.

HEAVEN SOLD.-A NARRATIVE OF FACTS.

ALPHONZO and myself commenced our acquaintance at college. After finishing our collegiate course, we soon found ourselves both engaged in mercantile pursuits ; and without once reflecting solemnly how soon, at longest, we must render our final account, or attempting to realize the vast importance of time and a state of preparation for death, we commenced a thcughtless career of pleasures, a life of vain amusements; and although we were, perhaps, considered as moral young men, we certainly had no claim to such a character. Death, judgment and eternity, seldom or never came into our thoughts with any lasting impressions, and never engaged our attention, except when sounded as an unwelcome alarm by our faithful minister ; for we frequented the church on the Sabbath for reputation's sake, and it was there that I was sometimes roused, but partially, to a sense of my folly. We soon became intimate, and wherever was the gay and thoughtless circle, wherever the .giddy throng assembled to dance, or wherever the votaries of pleasure, fashion and amusements were associated, there were we. With the advantages of a religious education, and blessed with parents who, during the time I was under their control, had discharged their duty faithfully, and shewn an ardent desire for my salvation ; the coun

sels and advice I had received while under the paternal roof, would not unfrequently harass my thoughts during the solitary hour, and my troubled conscience would now and then, after a night spent in the ball-room, or an evening at a route, chase sleep from my eye-lids and cry with a dolefully loud and heart-felt groan, eternity ! eternity! But the morning would return, when engagedness in business, and the society of companions, would obliterate all impressions, which it might have been important for me to have cherished, and I became an easy prey to every inducement which Satan held up to allure me from the paths of peace, virtue, and piety, and to join that circle where I knew I should reap dear bought pleasures.

My companion and myself but seldom conversed on the subject of religion, unless it was to deny the necessity of it, or accuse some faithful minister of overmuch zeal, and uncharitable doctrine. At length, three of our intimate companions, were summoned by the messenger of death, into eternity! At this time there was a revival of religion in the place, and we felt ourselves particularly invited to examine the subject. We received by this melancholy circumstance a powerful check in our thoughtless career; and while we looked into the grayes of those we loved, cut down in the midst of youth, beauty, and loveliness, and while our tears flowed with those that mourned and wept, we were conscious that from their graves issued a voice louder than ten thousand thunders, saying, “ Be ye also ready!” After an evening spent in a solitary walk, we parted in silence, without acquainting each other with our resolutions.But as I had firmly resolved to reform myself, I doubted not that my friend had done likewise. God in his mercy helped me to see the necessity of repentance and of an interest in the Redeemer ; and I humbly trust that, after a few days, I had reason to hope that by his abounding grace I could rejoice in believing. Alphonzo lost his impressions, and although I did not see him for some days, I heard of his being with a company that revelled until morning. I now determined to see him and faithfully warn him of his danger; but although I was favored with an opportunity, I neglected to perform my duty. Satan told me that I might be deceived, and how could I recommend that religion to others which I did not possess myself. For a time it effectually shut my mouth. As my views were changed, so were my companions, and of course as our opinions and pursuits now differed, Alphonzo and myself seldom met; and I soon found that I was losing the influence I once had held over him, and consequently the prospect of doing him good was constantly diminishing; and I resolved that I would seek him and do my duty faithfully, whether I was deceived or not. I found him at his room, and soon introduced the subject, which he received kindly, though with apparent reluctance, and after a short pause,

he replied in these memorable words: “ Alonzo, I believe that the youb Bday is coming when I shall be glad to have religion ; I doubt not of

its reality but at present, I am young; you know how I am situa

ted—that dihy associates are young men of gaiety and fashion, s andy cannot expect to enjoy their society should I embrace reli

gion , on the sonary, I know they would not wish it : I cannot

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

EW YORK

[ocr errors]

resign the pleasures that I now enjoy, but at some future day I may attend to it!"-For a few moments I sat motionless with a mixture of surprise, disappointment, and grief ; but at length rose, bid him adieu, and left the room.........

Thus terminated the intimacy between two friends, Alphonzo and Alonzo ! Months, yes, years have begun to number, and still he waits the more convenient season, the “some future time," and perhaps will wait, until eternity shall open to his view the awful reality, that his day of grace is spent forever! While I see this man, who was once so hopeful, so kind, amiable and affectionate, whose tenderness I witnessed at the graves of those lovely friends who are now mouldering to dust, who were both better and younger than ourselves, and whose untimely fates admonished us of human frailty and a preparation for death; while I see him bent on destruction, in the midst of dissipation, all former scenes tending to bring him to reflection and repentance banished from his thoughts, I sometimes tremble for my guilt in not having been more faithful. 0, ye who neglect to warn those who are, or have been your companions, while you have influence over them, remember it, that you may speak a word in season ; and not have the bitter reflection, that you have perhaps neglected it, when it might have saved a soul from death.

ALONZO.

FESTIVITY...A FRAGMENT.

EVENING came, and we again looked towards Babylon, and the splendour of the scene almost staggered my belief, that no happiness was there. A thousand torches made night more bright than day.

The rattling of a thousand chariots, which were conveying the inhabitants to the various places of public amusement and resort, seemed to shake the very firmament. Near the centre of the city was the general rendezvous. A spacious room brilliantly illuminated, was filling fast, whilst a band of musicians, tuning their various instruments, gave notice of the intended dance. All ages were there from sixty to sixteen, though the female part were generally young. After the party had arrived and taken their seats, I surveyed theni minutely; but to describe them would be impossible. Gold, silver, and pearls glittered in rich profusion over the varied dresses of this gay assembly. My mind for a moment was swallowed up as I gazed at this throng of beauty, while the notes of the flute and the violin, mellowed by distance, floated through the place and fell upon the ear in almost celestial harmony, as the band played their prelude. Ah, thought I, can it be possible that there is no pleasure here? are all their joys delusive? Their pleasure is madness, said the old man. You do not see all the company. Cast your eyes upward into the arch of the room. I looked, but did not discover any thing at first. In a moment, however, casting my eyes over the music, who were in a gallery at the end of the hall, I saw a form or phantom apparently something between human and divine; it was indescribable in its appearance, so coolly malignant, so mildly cruel, and sternly resolute. In fine, it was perfectly devilish. He surveyed the giddy and thoughtless group of dancers beneath him, as the spider surveys the helpless insect that is entangled in its toils. Sure of his prey, he seemed willing they should surfeit and fatigue themselves in their vain pursuits, while every step they took made them more certain victims. As I was gazing with wonder and surprise on this fallen spirit, he waved his hand in a beckoning attitude, and immediately the arch of the room was filled with unsubstantial forms; coughs, catarrhs, fevers, and lastly consumptions, who, hovering over the crowd, waited for their infernal master to point out to each his prey. Do they know their danger ? said I: They do, if telling can make them, said the old man, for they have the word of the King of kings, and have of. ten been warned of it by his trusty messengers, and if they will not believe them, they would not believe though one rose from the dead, and therefore must abide the consequences. While he was speaking, the leader of this ghastly band marked a beautiful female among the dancers, whose dress combined the labours of Tyre and Egypt, and in whose countenance the lily and the rose were blended in richest luxuriance. Quick as thought, consumption stooped and breathed upon her; a sudden flush overspread her cheeks, and a slight indisposition caused her to sit down for a few moments. But she soon resumed her gaiety, danced sprightlier than ever, and appeared to forget her pain in the increasing festivities of the evening. Notice her, said the old man, for you will see her again in different circumstances. That elegant form will in a few days be wasted away by the slow but sure effects of the deleterious breath of that child of sin who hovers over her. She has bartered away her soul for this evening's entertainment, and the dress she wears. God hath suffered her to make her own bargain. In the bitterness of despair she will soon cry out “ What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul!!

But let us leave these, and turn our attention to another company. At his word I looked into the hall beneath the ball-room, and saw a great crowd of men of every age, sitting around a splendid table, which was loaded with the produce of every clime. The mountains, the plains, and the ocean had been plundered to spread this board with all the luxuries that heart could wish, or the most Epicurean appetite desire. Wines of every kind in richest profusion, were poured out and drank like water. Peals of laughter, obscene songs, blasphemous jesting, mingled with curses, made the hall resound. What are these men doing = said I: They are, answered the old man, like those in the ball-room, celebrating a national festival ; eating a thanksgiving supperin remembranceof a great deliverance. Do they believe in a God? Certainly, or they say they certainly do, and to prove their respect for him, they have obtained a man who professes to be a minister of God, to join them on this occasion. What does he mean, thus to encourage such conduct by his presence and example ? You will know when you hear him preach: The God of whom he is the minister, is not the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, but is altogether such an one as himself, having no power to destroy the wicked, and no disposition

« 上一页继续 »