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the last, and with its trembling hand, hold up the glass to us, as it did unto the patriarch.
-Dear, inconsiderate Christians! wait not, I beseech you, till then ;take a view of your life now; -look back ;-behold this fair space, capable of such heavenly improvements-all scrawled over and defaced with
I want words to say, with what-for I think only of the reflections with which you are to support yourselves, in the decline of a life so miserably cast away, should it happen, as it often does, that ye have stood idle unto the eleventh hour, and have all the work of the day to perform when night comes on, and no one can work.
2dly, As to the evil of the days of the years of our pilgrimage-speculation and fact appear at variance again. We agree with the patriarch, that the life of man is miserable; and yet the world looks happy enough-and every thing tolerably at its ease. It must be noted, indeed, that the patriarch, in this account, speaks merely his present feelings, and seems rather to be giving a history of his sufferings, than a system of them, in contradiction to that of the GoD of love. Look upon the world he has given us,-observe the riches and plenty which flow in every channel, not only to satisfy the desires of the temperate, but of the fanciful and wanton; every place is almost a paradise, planted when nature was in her gayest humor. -Every thing has two views. Jacob, and Job, and Solomon, gave one section of the globe,and this representation another :-Truth lieth betwixt or rather, good and evil are mixed together. Which of the two preponderates, is beyond cur inquiry ;—but, I trust— -it is the good :— First, as it renders the Creator of the world more dear and venerable to me; and secondly, Because I will not suppose, that a work intended to exalt his glory, should stand in want of apologies.
Whatever is the proportion of misery in this world, it is certain, that it can be no duty of religion to increase the complaint,- or to affect the praise which the Jesuits college of Granada give of their Sanchez,That, tho' he lived where there was a very sweet garden, yet, was never seen to touch a flower; and that he would rather die, than eat salt or pepper, or aught that might give a relish to his meat.
I pity the men whose natural pleasures are burdens, and who fly from joy, (as these splenetic and morose souls do), as if it was really an evil in itself.
If there is an evil in this world, it is sorrow and heaviness of heart.-The loss of goods,-of health
of coronets and mitres, are only evil, as they occasion sorrow; take that out-the rest is fancy, and dwelleth only in the head of man.
Poor unfortunate creature that he is! as if the causes of anguish in the heart were not enow— but he must fill up the measure with those of caprice; and not only walk in a vain shadow,-but disquiet himself in vain too.
We are a restless set of beings; and as we are likely to continue so to the end of the world,—the best we can do in it, is to make the same use of this part of our character, which wise men do of other bad propensities;when they find they cannot conquer them, they endeavor, at least, to divert them into good channels.
If, therefore, we must be a solicitous race of self-tormentors,- -let us drop the common objects which make us so,-and for God's sake be solicitous only to live well.
The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus considered.
LUKE xvi. 31.
And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, tho' one should rise from the dead.
HESE words are the conclusion of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus; the design of which was, to show us the necessity of conducting ourselves, by such lights as GoD had been pleased to give us: The sense and meaning of the patriarch's final determination in the text being this, That they who will not be persuaded to answer the great purposes of their being, upon such arguments as are offered to them in scripture, will never be persuaded to it by any other means, how extraordinary soever—. -If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, tho' one should rise from the dead.
Rise from the dead! To what purpose ? What could such a messenger propose or urge, which had not been proposed and urged already? -The novelty or surprise of such a visit might awaken the attention of a curious unthinking people, who spent their time in nothing else, but to hear and tell some new thing; but, ere the wonder was well over, some new wonder would start up in its room, and then the man might return to the dead, from whence he came, and not a soul make one inquiry about him.
This, I fear, would be the conclusion of the affair. But to bring this matter still closer to us, let us imagine, if there is nothing unworthy in it, that GOD, in compliance with a curious
or, from a better motive-in compassion to a sinful one, should vouchsafe to send one from the dead, to call home our conscience, and make us better Christians, better citizens, better men, and better servants to GOD than we are.
Now bear with me, I beseech you, in framing such an address, as I imagine would be the most likely to gain our attention, and conciliate the heart to what he had to say: The great channel to it is Interest,-and there he would set out.
He might tell us, (after the most indisputable credentials of whom he served), That he was come a messenger from the great GoD of Heaven, with reiterated proposals, whereby much was to be granted to us on his side,and something to be parted with on ours: But that, not to alarm us, it was neither houses, nor land, nor possessions;it was neither wives, or children, or brethren, or sisters, which we had to forsake ;no one rational pleasure to be given up ;natural endearment to be torn from
-In a word, he would tell us, We had nothing to part with—but what was not for our interests to keep,- and that was our vices; which brought death and misery to our doors.
He would go on, and prove it by a thousand arguments, that, to be temperate and chaste, and just and peaceable, and charitable and kind to one another,-was only doing that for CHRIST's sake, which was most for our own: And that, were we in a capacity of capitulating with God, upon what terms we would submit to his government,
-he would convince us, it would be impossible for the wit of man, to frame any proposals more for our present interests, than to lead an uncorrupted life to do the thing which is lawful and right, and lay such restraints upon our appetites, as are for the honor of human nature, and the refinement of human happiness.
When this point was made out, and the alarms from interest got over,- -the spectre might address himself to the other passions ;-in doing this he could but give us the most engaging ideas of the perfections of GOD, -nor could he do more, than impress the most awful ones, of his majesty and power :He might remind us, that we are creatures but of a day, hastening to the place from whence we shall not return ;that, during our stay, we stood accountable to this Being, who, tho' rich in mercies,-yet was terrible in his judgments ;- -that he took notice of all our actions; that he was about our paths, and about our beds, and spied out all our ways; and was so pure in his nature, that he would punish even the wicked imaginations of the heart, and had appointed a day, wherein he would enter into this inquiry..
He might add
-But what?-with all the eloquence of an inspired tongue, What could he add or say to us, which has not been said before? The experiment has been tried a thousand times, upon the hopes and fears, the reasons and passions of men by all the powers of nature,--the application of which has been so great, and the variety of addresses so unanswerable, that there is not a greater paradox in the world, than that so good a religion should be no better recommended by its professors.
The fact is, mankind are not always in a humor to be convinced,-and, so long as the preengagement with our passions subsits, it is not argumentation which can do the business ;-we may amuse ourselves with the ceremony of the operation, but we reason not with the proper faculty, when we see every thing in the shape and coloring, in which the treachery of the senses paints it; and, indeed, were we only to look into