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"For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

THIS verse is the conclusion of one of the most extraordinary books which the world has ever seen. The writer, the subject, and the mode of discussion, are all of a remarkable character. The writer was the wisest of all men; the subject is the supreme good of man; and the mode of discussion is solemn, impressive, and happy, without a parallel.

No man was ever so fitted to examine this subject. It is hardly necessary to observe that the question, In what consists the supreme good; has been almost endlessly discussed by a great variety of ingenious writers, of most ages and countries, distinguished for illumination. The question has been answered in a vast multitude of ways. Varro informs us, that, within his knowledge, philosophers have adopted concerning this subject no less than two hundred and eighty-eight different opinions. Among these, some placed it in quiet of mind; others in rest of the body; some in knowledge; others in wealth; some in reputation; others in what is appropriately

called pleasure; and others, still, in a great variety of other objects. The most prominent of these opinions are examined in this book; and, in the most satisfactory manner, refuted. For this employment Solomon was not only fitted by his peculiar wisdom, his extensive acquaintance with the affairs of the present life, and his enlarged views of the doctrines and duties of religion, but by his own experience also. No man ever had such an experimental acquaintance with the objects and pleasures of science, taste, sense, imagination, refinement, ambition, avarice, and religion, united. At the same time, he was perfectly disposed and qualified to enjoy all these pleasures. It is truly said of him, nay he says of himself, that he withheld not his heart from any joy. Thus, whether he speaks of the affairs of this world, or that to come, the pleasures of sense, or the enjoyments of religion, he speaks, as far as this can be done by an inhabitant of earth, from personal experience. His observations, therefore, have a weight, his opinions an authority, which cannot be claimed by those of any other man. They are the opinions of one who had more power, than could be challenged at that time by any other inhabitant of the earth. His wisdom, fame, wealth, and all other sources of sensual enjoyment, have never been rivalled. Nor were his attainments in religion small. We may well wonder, indeed, that in these circumstances he should be religious at all. Yet we are informed by Nehemiah, that among many nations there was no king like him, who was beloved of his God.

After Solomon has gone through an extensive consideration of the various branches of this important subject, he gives us the result of all these investigations in form, "Let us hear," says he," the conclusion of the whole matter," or in Hodgson's more exact translation, "Let us hear the substance of all that "has been said. Fear God, and keep his commandments: "for this is all that concerneth man." To this infinitely important declaration the text is subjoined as a proof of its truth, which cannot be questioned; and as a reason to enforce its importance on the mind, which cannot be resisted, except by voluntary blindness and hardness of heart.

In this passage the word work obviously denotes the overt conduct of man, his words, and actions. The phrase secret thing, intends the thoughts, and affections of the heart. Or works may with propriety indicate that which is said and done, before mankind; and secret things, that which is done where others neither see, nor hear, whether in the heart, in darkness, or in solitude. According to either mode of explanation, the phraseology includes every thing which we think, speak, or do. All this, the text informs us, God will bring into judg


With this explanation, the doctrine contained in the text, is as clearly and forcibly declared as it can be. My intention in choosing the passage as the theme of discourse at the present time, is to derive from it the following plain, practical, solemn remarks.

I. How unprepared are we, in all probability, for this disclosure of our characters.

Every child of Adam has, probably, done many things which he would not have known, for any consideration, to his fellow-creatures. Not a small number of these no motive would persuade him to discover to his nearest and best friends, to those who would regard him with the greatest tenderness, and cast the most indulgent eye upon his failings. Look into your hearts, and see whether there are not many such things which have been done by you, every year, every month, every week, nay some, at least, every day. Of these there are, in all probability, some which, if they were to be disclosed to mankind, or even to an individual friend, would overwhelm you with shame, dismay, and anguish. How many are there, think you, in this assembly who would not shrink and tremble if they were compelled publicly to utter their impious thoughts of God; their unkind, envious, and ungrateful, their false and fraudulent feelings towards their fellow-men; or their impure indulgences of a licentious imagination, and a corrupted heart? Where is the face of bronze that would not turn pale at this disclosure; or the heart of marble that would not dissolve be

neath the eyes of those to whom it was made? Would not the character be blasted, would not the hopes wither at the very commencement of the melancholy tale ?

How many of these thoughts have been such as we have never dared to speak? How many of them designs, which we should have shuddered to execute? Nay, how many of the` words which we have spoken, and of the designs which we have executed, have been in our own view so guilty and so shameful, that the only peace which we can find when remembering them, is derived from that miserable refuge of sin, that they are known only to ourselves? Were we to be informed that a disclosure of them was about to be made, would not the information probably put an end to our peace for ever?

But if it would be distressing to a degree not easily comprehensible to have these things known even to our friends, how much greater would be our anguish to have them known to mankind? What, then, must be our emotions, were they to be published to the assembled universe? What a triumph will it be to fiends to see the race of Adam, and ourselves perhaps equally with others, holden up before all intelligent beings in so odious, shameful, and humbling a light? How must good men feel for themselves, and weep for others? If angels can weep, must not their tears fall over such a recital?

Above all things, how dreadful must it be to have this disclosure made before the eternal God; to have all our secret as well as open sins set in the light of his countenance, and in this noon day splendour placed in order before our eyes. finitely more important to us will his views of our character be than those of all other beings united. Proportionally overwhelming will it be to see, and know, and feel, that our whole character is naked before him, and our sins without a covering.

In addition to all these distresses, we ourselves shall be compelled to make this humiliating disclosure. "Every one "of us," says St. Paul," shall give account of himself to "God." This discovery of our character would be terrible, if the facts were all recorded in a book, and read over in our hearing. How much more distressing must it be for the un

happy culprit to rehearse his own sins before the Judge of the quick and the dead? whose lips would not tremble, whose heart would not rend asunder when summoned to such a task as this? Who would not stand aghast, when he saw the multitude of his own crimes, and marked their black and dreadful die? How could his tongue begin the terrible recital? Where and when could it end?

But the one half of this distress is not yet told. On this disclosure our final sentence, our everlasting reward will be founded. "We must appear," says St. Paul," before the judgment "seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done "in his body according to what he hath done, whether it be "good or bad," 2 Cor. v. 10. Of all the anguish suffered on this side of perdition, none will be so excruciating as that which will be excited in the soul of a sinner by his account of his own sins, given with a full conviction, that from that very account will proceed the sentence which will condemn him to eternal woe. On this tremendous occasion, how will the best of men need to be supported and encouraged when presenting before their Judge the innumerable evils which even they have committed? How deeply will they feel their necessity for the all-cleansing blood of the Redeemer to change the crimson into white ?

Should then the judgment be set, and the books, out of which mankind will be judged according to their works, be opened this day, is it not plain to every person in this assembly, that he is very unhappily prepared for such an exhibition of his character?

II. What a mighty change will then be made in the state of


In this world mankind have agreed upon certain principles, according to which they estimate the characters of their fellowmen, and yield their applause, or distribute their censures. Those who are rich, who are in high offices, or of great influence; men of genius, learning, and eloquence; the splendid, the beautiful, and the polished; the brave and the powerful, are regularly the objects of admiration and praise. The

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