Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

Yet shall the happy creatures have enough to do, and to enjoy, though there be no misery to comfort, nor evil to stem, nor grief over whose departure to rejoice. Of how many cheap, exquisite joys are these five senses the inlets! and who is he that can look upon the beautiful scenes of the morning, lying in the freshness of the dew, and the joyful light of the risen sun, and not be happy? Cannot God create another world many times more fair? and cast over it a mantle of light many times more lovely? and wash it with purer dew than ever dropped from the eyelids of the morning? Can he not shut up winter in his hoary caverns, or send him howling over another domain? Can he not form the chrystal eye more full of sweet sensations, and fill the soul with a richer faculty of conversing with nature, than the most gifted poet did ever possess? Think you the creative function of God is exhausted upon this dark and troublous ball of earth? or that this body and soul of human nature are the master-piece of his architecture? Who knows what new enchantment of melody, what new witchery of speech, what poetry of conception, what variety of design, and what brilliancy of execution, he may endow the human faculties withal in what new graces he may clothe nature, with such various enchantment of hill and dale, woodland, rushing streams, and living fountains; with bowers of bliss and sabbath-scenes of peace, and a thousand forms of disporting creatures, so as to make all the world hath beheld, to seem like the gross picture with which you catch infants; and to make the eastern tale of romances, and the most rapt imagination of eastern poets like the ignorant prattle and rude structures which first delight the nursery and afterwards ashame our riper years.

Again, from our present establishment of affections, what exquisite enjoyment springs, of love, of friendship, and of domestic life. For each one of which God, amidst this world's faded glories, hath preserved many a temple of most exquisite delight. Home, that word of nameless charms; love, that inexhaustible theme of sentiment and poetry; all relationships, parental, conjugal, and filial, shall arise to a new strength, graced with innocency, undisturbed by apprehension of decay, unruffled by jealousy, and unweakened by time. Heart shall meet heart

“ Each other's pillow to repose divine.” The tongue shall be eloquent to disclose all its burning emotions, no longer labouring and panting for utterance. And a new organization of body for joining and mixing affections may be invented, more quiet homes for partaking it undisturbed, and more sequestered retreais for barring out the invasion of other affairs. Oh! what scenes of social life I fancy to myself in the settlements of the blessed, one day of which I would not barter against the greatness and glory of an Alexander or a Cæsar. What new friendships -what new connubial ties—what urgency of well-doingwhat promotion of good-what elevation of the whole sphere in which we dwell! till every thing smile in “ Eden's first bloom," and the angels of light, as they come and go, tarry with innocent rapture over the enjoyment of every happy fair. Ah! they will come, but with no weak sinfulness like those three lately sung of hy no holy tongue; they will come to creatures sinless as themselves, and help forward the mirth and rejoicing of all the people. And the Lord God himself shall walk amongst us, as he did of old in the midst of the garden. His spirit shall be in us, and all heaven shall be revealed upon us.

God only knows what great powers he hath of creating happiness and joy. For, this world your sceptic poets make such idolatry of, 'tis a waste-howling wilderness compared with what the Lord our God shall furnish out. That city of our God and the Lamb, whose stream was crystal, whose wall was jasper, and her buildings molten gold, whose twelve gates were each a silvery pearl.--doth not so far outshine those dingy, smoky, clayey dwellings of men, as shall that new earth outshine the fairest region which the sun hath ever beheld in his circuit since the birth of time.

But there is a depraved taste in man, which delights in strife and struggle; a fellness of spirit, which joys in fire and sword; and a serpent mockery, which cannot look upon innocent peace without a smile of scorn, or a ravenous lust to marr it. And out of this fund of bitterness come forth those epithets of derision which they pour upon the innocent images of heaven. They laugh at the celebration of the Almighty's praise as a heartless service-pot understanding that which they make themselves merry withal. The harp which the righteous tune in heaven, is their heart full of glad and harmonious emotions. The song which they sing, is the knowledge of things which the soul coveteth after now, but faintly perceiveth. 'The troubled fountain of human understanding hath become clear as crystal, they know even as they are known. Wherever they look abroad, they perceive wisdom and glory-within, they feel order and happiness-in every countenance they read benignity and love. God is glorified in all his outward works, and inthroned in the inward parts of every living thing; and man, being ravished with the constant picture of beauty and contentment, possessed with a constant sense of felicity, uiters forth his Maker's praise, or if he utters not, museth it with expressive silence,

These light and ignorant wits laugh likewise at the pastoral innocency of heaven, at its peacefulness and quiet, and would transport amongst its bowers the bad activity and molestation of evil pursuits which make so large a share of their enjoyments here below. They want ambition to stir up the sluggish soul, and pride to reward it. They want emulation, and envy, and contention, to set the spirit on edge, and triumphs and conquests to compose it again, with all the play of earthly bustle and activity. Vain sons of Belial! they understand not the nature even of present happiness, their wicked hearts misleading them from the truth. These turbulent affections constitute not the enjoyment of the present life, but its misery. Ambition is a curse to him who indulges it, racking his bosom and wrecking his peace, causing him to trample upon the necks of many, to forget sacred promises, to deceive, to flatter, to fawn, the successful leading to self-willedness and cruelty, the unsuccessful sinking into the lowest sink of shame. Contention, strife, and war, are incarnate demons, setting chiefest friends asunder, entering innocent homes, marring rural festivity, and drawing over the beauty of the earth the waste and havoc and sulphurous canopy of hell. There is a yearning in the bosom of man after quietness and peace; safety and securi. ty are the two guardians of his welfare; gratitude and affection the two nurses of his happiness. Truth and innocency are the light of his soul; falsehood and deception its dubious twilight. It is a base satire on human nature io say, that without strife, contention, and dividing pride, she cannot be happy or great; and that bustle and restlessness are the elements in which she thrives. When are kingdoms happy and prosperous! when they have peaceful times, and worthy governors. Who are the great discoverers and sages of their species? those who have consorted with meditation alone, and lived remote from contentious scenes. What do your men of business labour for? To rest in old

age

and be at peace. What girds you with resolution to go through your daily toils? The peaceful happy home and family to whose bosom you retire at eventide. What is this, then,

wicked men assert, as if there could be no activity, no manhood, no enterprise, no heroism, without cruelty and guilt; no delights of knowledge, of poetry, of philosophy, of affection, without emulation and vanity; these are the poisons in the cup, not the medicines. Human society would die forthwith, were there not the healthy infusion of disinterestedness, justice, mercy, and love. There would be no relief for the unfortunate, nor consolation for the wretched, were there not other funds than self-aggrandisement and jealousy to draw upon: and I am well assured there would be none of that unresisting industry in this our city, were we not the lords of our peaceful homes; and there would be no such enterprise in the bosom of our youth, were there no happy undisturbed retirements to which, after a season, they might come home and be at rest.

Therefore I do appeal to the common sense and natural understanding of unsophisticated men, which these deriding wits have made shipwreck, if our heaven do not commend itself by the emblems with which it hath been shadowed forth-if its repose is not sweet to look forward to, from this sorely agitated scene--if the perfect honesty and confidence of all its people will not be a constant feast to us, cheated and disappointed upon every side-if the voice of the heart does not answer to its pictures of rural beauty and felicity_if the mind does not rejoice in the perfection of knowledge and fulness of understanding which shall be disclosed to its desires if the whole soul doth not long for the paradise of joy and the eternity of life wherein she will there be planted.

But that with all these accompaniments it will be a scenę of activity, I have no doubt. Activity buth of body and of mind; that sensual and physical enjoyments will be multiplied manifold; that affectionate attachments will yield a thousand times more enjoyment; that schemes of future good will occupy our thoughts, and enterprises of higher attainments urge our being forward! Then will be the pleasure of the eye, but none of the weariness; the glow and glory of life, but not its pride; the thrilling joys of Aesh and blood, but none of their odious lusts. In the emblems of Scripture there is a city which signifies active life-there is a river which signifies refreshment--a tree of life, which signifies nourishment; variety of spontaneous fruit, which signifies gratification of the sense. The gates are not shut all the day, which signifies liberty. There is no night, which signifies no weariness nor treachery. There are the most beautiful gems, which signify wealth and splendour. In short, the Almighty hath planted and decorated the habitation of the just with every object that could captivate the sense, and every enjoyment that can-satisfy the mind, with all that is beautiful and noble and good.

Thus coolly do I prosecute a subject which would sustain the loftiest flights, and call into action the strongest enthusiasm of the mind, because I would justify these great truths of our religion by an appeal to the cool reason and correct feelings of humau nature, not by high-wrought elo. quence, or picturesque delineatiou. And I would now meditate with the same calmness and collectedness the dark side of futurity, praying you to suppress your fears, and listen with your reason and judgment alone, which are the only faculties of your minds, from which these several discourses of Judgment have asked a verdict.

• Though the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched, are on the same occasion thrice solemnly denounced upon the wicked by the most humane and gentle spirit of Christ; and every description of Judgment by Daniel and John and Paul be in the same strain; still keeping them for a moment in our breast, we shall inquire into the condition in which a congregation of evil natures must necessarily find themselves, when all hope and possibility of amendment are removed. It is most manifest to any one coolly considering his own bosom, that if he were to give a license to the evil that is within him, to the suggestions of malice and lust and passion, he would become hateful to himself and horrible to all around. If the fear of God were cast away, and the fear of man; if the rewards that attend honesty and chastity and peace were no longer known; if one, in short, had nothing to lose in life, no death, and no retribution after death staring him in the face, the lengths to which he would proceed are shocking to reflect upon.

Now this is precisely the state of things in the nether world. There is no hope, there is no end, there are no good beings to hold the balance against evil, and there is no restraining providence of God. Were there nothing more, I hold this to be enough to constitute the hottest, cruelest hell, I ask no elemental fire, no furnace of living flames, no tormenting demons, nothing but a congregation of the wicked, in the wicked state in which they died and appeared at the tribunal, driven together into one settlement, to make the best or the worst of it they can. Let every man arise in his proper likeness, clothed in his proper nature,

« ForrigeFortsæt »