« PreviousContinue »
science, and the infinite motives presented to the mind in the word of God, are annihilated. Here serious reflections are gradually and finally withdrawn; resolutions of amendment are palsified, and die; and every intention, and every hope, of returning to God, escaping perdition, and obtaining everlasting life, is buried in the grave.
The poor unhappy wretches, like the infatuated Trojans on the evening preceding the day of their final destruction, assemble with all the cheerfulness of hope, the gaiety of triumph, and the songs and garlands of a festival, around the engines of their ruin, and dance, and revel, and riot, on the brink of the eternal grave. Daily waxing worse and worse, they soon bid adieu to conscience, to remorse, and to hope, and become more and more tainted, diseased, and putrid, till death knocks at the door, and summons them to the judgment, Loaded with sin, without an interest in the Redeemer, without a prayer offered, or a wish exercised, for the mercy of a forgiving God, their spirits ascend to Him, who gave them, to have every work, and every secret thing, brought into judgment. Then all the enormous crimes, perpetrated in these hidden retreats of iniquity, will be exposed in open day, and set in order before their eyes. That which has been spoken in the ear will then be proclaimed on the house top; and that which has been perpetrated in solitude and darkness, rehearsed in the great congregation. The Judge of the quick and the dead will then uncover all these recesses of sin, and their profaneness, falsehood, fraud, drunkenness, and lewdness, pass in review before the assembled universe.
How mightily will the scene then be changed! When their efforts at mutual corruption, when the crimes to which they have reduced each other, are set in the light of God's countenance; far other views will be formed by them concerning their conduct than those which they so eagerly cherished here. When, in their last account, they come to recite the contrivances, deceits, encouragements, and examples, with which they have become mutual corrupters, and when these things become the foundation of their final sentence, how will
they tremble and shrink at the tremendous prospect of the very things in which they gloried amid the gaiety, the riot, the tempest, of their perpetrations here below! But all these things will rise up before them in judgment. final sentence will be founded, and for them they will be hurried away to the blackness of darkness for ever.
On them the
"But a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”
IN the preceding discourse, after explaining the text, I derived from it the following doctrine :
He who frequents the company of sinners is in danger of eternal destruction.
This doctrine, then, I illustrated by various considerations. I will now conclude the discourse with some practical
I. From these observations we learn that sinful companions are real and dangerous enemies.
They profess, indeed, and often with fair pretences, strong declarations, and many seeming acts of good-will, to be sincere and ardent friends to those whom they corrupt and destroy. Nay they are frequently, and in an advanced stage of degeneracy always, believed to be the faithful and the only friends of the victim. Their efforts to please are often more direct, open, active, and persuasive, than those of real friends. A studied and specious accordance with the passions, wishes, and
of those whom they ensnare invests them with a pepurposes, culiarly pleasing and desirable character to the inexperienced and ignorant eye of every youth. Where real friends advise, they only accord. Where real friends alarm, they soothe. Where real friends reprove, they flatter. And thus, where real friends become dreaded, and in the end hated, they become endeared, delightful, and at last necessary to the apprehended good of those whom they destroy.
All this, however strange it may seem at the first view, easily explicable. Every vicious person, however proud and vain he may be, is secretly conscious that he is destitute of any real worth, and feels, that his claims, either to respect or af fection, are at the best doubtful, and will be questioned. To these claims, therefore, he is unwilling to trust for reputation, good-will, or good offices. If he is to have friends, therefore, or admirers, he knows that he must make them. Satisfied that they will not follow him, he determines to follow them. The esteem and attachment which he cannot command, he reThe kind offices which he cannot claim, he solves to allure. labours to win. For worth which he has not, he endeavours to substitute assiduous civility; for amiableness, a pleasing deportment; and for usefulness, flattery. Thus, although he cannot become estimable, he supplies, and often more than supplies the deficiency, by the diligence with which he seeks to promote the pleasure, encourage the hopes, awaken the vanity, foster the wishes, and promote the purposes, of those to whom he attaches himself. In this manner he is but too commonly successful, and finds the subject of his imposition, willing to mistake agreeableness for worth, and sedulity for friendship. Men of real worth, on the contrary, usually expect that their friendship will be coveted, and their good offices sought. They know the value of these things, and naturally expect that it will be known by others. Their friendship is therefore rarely offered; and, if obtained at all, is almost always solicited.
Let it not be supposed that, because I mention this fact, I therefore approve of this conduct. In many cases it is certainly unhappy. Not a small number of youths have, in all
probability, been ruined, who might have been saved, had wisdom and virtue taken them seasonably by the hand, and not left them to be practised upon by the arts of cunning and profligacy.
But real friends are those who, whether pleasing or unpleas ing, design and do us real good. Let me exhort the youths in this congregation to remember and to feel this interesting truth. Who else can deserve the name of friends? What else can be the value of friendship? But these wicked companions, instead of seeking your good, aim at your ruin. When, therefore, they profess themselves your friends, the profession is false and hollow. It is true, indeed, that they are destroying themselves, at the same time. But in what respect will their destruction benefit you? Will their sins render yours less guilty? Will their perdition render yours less dreadful? Will it be any consolation to you in the regions of despair, that those who were here your companions in crimes, are there your companions in misery?
The man who in this world voluntarily destroys, or even injures, any valuable interest of his neighbour, is estimated by mankind, and by you as truly as others, an enemy. These persons aim at a far more comprehensive injury, and accomplish an infinitely wider ruin. With the scythe of death they cut down soul and body, life and immortality, and leave nothing behind.
II. What an image does a company of sinners, thus resorting together, present to a sober mind!
Were prophets of God, were even honest historians, to describe, with a faithful hand, the scenes of iniquity; were they faithfully to pourtray the characters, and relate the actions which take place in the dark retreats in which these persons customarily assemble; what, think you, would be the appearance of the portrait? Unfortunately for the young, the gay, the giddy, no such historians are found, to present to them this dreadful picture, as a solemn communication of what they will one day become by frequenting evil company, as a powerful antidote to all the communications and examples, the arts and treacheries,