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improvement ? and must it not be confirmed by habit? Can the man be “ thoroughly furnished unto all good works” on the pillow of debility and impotence! or, if the soul be really touched with remorse, when about to quit the body, can that remorse be brought to maturity, and work
repentance unto salvation,” in the grave ? Can we find good works to engage us, or power to achieve them, under the cold turf, or in the solitary tomb?
Our blessed Saviour himself proclaims the object of his mission. “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in me should not abide in darkness.” He does not say, should not expire,-should not leave the world in darkness; but should not abide,--should not continue to live in darkness,-in the practice of immorality and impiety: for we know that light and darkness, in the sacred writings, are equivalent to good and evil, virtue and vice, righteousness and iniquity. Darkness is the den, the covert, of wicked men ;-in darkness, accursed spirits are bound in everlasting chains ;-the opposers and persecutors of truth are called “rulers of the darkness of this world.” Shall a believer in Christ, then, “ walk on still in darkness ?”—wear out life in folly and licentiousness, and dream that the light of glory will dawn upon him at his last, his parting hour ?
That “ grace, which bringeth salvation,” teacheth us,
that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live righteously, soberly, and godlily, in this present world :"—should live, should“ pass the time of our sojourning here,” “ in patient continuance in well-doing,”—that the general current of life should glide on in a course of virtue and piety, free from wilful sin, and fruitful in good works. Then we may die in peace. But, if we reverse the lesson, and, denying no worldly lusts, “ walk in lasciviousness, excess, revellings, and abominable idolatries,”—if we live the life of the wicked, yet think to“ die the death of the righteous," we mock God, oppose his grace,
, grieve his Spirit, affront our Redeemer, and ensnare our souls.
In short, the grand purpose, the ultimate scope of Christianity, is this-(for all other aims are but subordinate)—to make men holy on earth, and so, by consequence, prepare and qualify them to be happy in heaven. Revelation is the “minister of God for good” to his rational creature, man; -good here, in as great a degree as his present
infirmity will admit, and good hereafter, to the utmost capacity of his nature. To accomplish this noble end, it adopts every means ; it urges every motive. It speaks loudly to our understandings,—to our passions,—to our affections : it reasons,-it promises,-it threatens. have any sense of what is true, just, pure, lovely,
- we must see the beauty of holiness; if hope can stimulate, we must ardently seek after“ glory, honour, and immortality;" if fear can agitate, we must dread and fly from “tribulation and anguish;" if gratitude can warm our hearts, we must love,and if we love, we shall obey,--that Redeemer, who was voluntarily "wounded for our transgressions,” and took upon himself “ the chastisement of our peace.” And loving Him as we ought, we shall reverence and praise Him ;—not tremblingly and unfruitfully, with our lips, in the secluded chamber of dotage and disease, but joyfully and profitably, in our lives, on the active stage of the world.
Evidently and unquestionably, the Father of spirits has ordained us to pass through this mortal state to try our fidelity and prove our filial obedience. Human life is, beyond all doubt, a stage of probation—a school of discipline. It is “to humble us, and to prove us.” How these The pro
purposes can be answered, when the scene is closed on which this probation is to take place, this discipline to operate, I cannot understand. The whole Bible is one continued incitement to faith and virtue, to piety and purity. phet, by Divine commission, proclaimed of old, “ The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”
The apostle confirms the solemn decision, wages of sin is death.” He, who, calling himself a Christian, “ continues in sin" through life, that grace may abound at death,-as far as rests with him, counteracts the purpose and decree of his Creator, and makes his Redeemer the “ minister of sin ;”--than which nothing can be conceived more foolish, more impious, and more decidedly wicked.
Not having completed what I meant to say, yet aware that no good purpose can be answered by fatiguing attention, I must reserve what remains to be urged to some future day. Meanwhile, let it not be suspected, by any thing that has dropt from me in the course of this address, that with useless barbarity, I would sharpen the sting of death, and aggravate the despair of parting guiltiness. No!—to the last, let every means be tried—let every thing be done, that can be done, though with little assurance of a happy result,—though with scarce a trembling hope. But to them, who, like us, “are alive at this day,” alive to the world and its concerns,to them I call—them will I warn, them will I supplicate, to seek “ the things that belong unto their peace, before they are hid from their eyes. —Them will I entreat, while yet in the vigour of their days, to “ set their house in order," lest, at the last, that house be “left unto them desolate.”