« PreviousContinue »
Mutual Knowledge between Christ and his
People. JOHN, X. 14. I know my Sheep, and am known of mine.
Promise of Strength and Peace. PSALM xxix. 11. The Lord will give
Strength unto his People : the Lord will bless his People with Peace.
Christ's Second Coming. MALACHI, iii. 2. But who may abide the
Day of his Coming? And who fall stand, when He appeareth.
The Foolish Bargain.
MATTHEW, xvi. 26. What is a man profited, if he fall gain the whole
world and lose his own foul ? or what shall a man
give in exchange for bis foul ! No person can hear these questions with
out understanding them. Their meaning is plain. They speak for themselves, and carry with them their own answer. Our blessed Lord, in asking them, clearly intended to lay down this aweful and interesting truth; That the man, who for the sake of worldly. happiness, however great, shall lose his soul, will make a moft foolish bargain, and in the end will bitterly repent what he has done.'
This truth I shall endeavour to explain
In judging of a bargain, whether it be good or bad, two particulars must be taken into account, the thing bought, and the price
given for it. These must be compared together, for it is the proportion, which they bear in value to each other, that shews what the bargain is. If the thing bought be clearly worth far less than what is given for it, we pronounce the bargain to be bad. Now in the bargain of which we speak, the thing bought is Worldly Happiness : the price given for it, is the Soul. What proportion do these things bear in value to each other? To answer this question, we must enquire into their separate value, so as to see what each of them is really worth.
1. Worldly happiness is that happiness, which is to be found in the pursuit, or the enjoyment of worldly things : that happiness, which springs from the gratification of our sensual, our ambitious, or our covetous desires. And certainly we must allow, that taken by itself, this happiness is considerable. A man doubtless feels no fmall fatisfaction and delight, in gaining honours and riches, in exercising power, in indulging his lusts and appetites. It is not by under-rating worldly happiness and by representing it as less valuable than it really is, that we shall endeavour to prove our point. We will give to it all the advantage, which its warmest friends can desire.
We will allow their enjoy. ments to be as great as they are said to be. We will go even farther. We will take no notice of all those interruptions and disappointments, to which, from a thousand causes, worldly happiness is liable. We will suppose, that it is entirely free from these things; that the body is never tortured with pain; that the mind is never wrung with grief; that every thing goes on smoothly ; that every wish is gratified, every desire accomplished, every hope fulfilled. This indeed is admitting a great deal : but not more than our Saviour himfelf seems to have admitted for the time; when he speaks of a man's gaining the whole world; which we may fairly interpret to mean, his gaining as much' happi. ness, as the world can possibly bestow.
But after all these allowances in favour of worldly happiness, there is one thing to be mentioned on the opposite fide. There is one weight to be thrown into the oppofite fcale, which takes not a little from its worth, and which therefore, in enquiring into its real value, must not be passed over. It is this : all worldly happiness must come to an end " The things which are seen are temporal.” Worldly things are but for a time, for a feason. They are in their nature perishable, and cannot last for ever. “ The fashion of this world pafleth away.
Let a man's enjoyment then in the world be as great and lasting, as on the largest supposition they can possibly be, still a time must come, when they will cease. There is a day, beyond which they cannot last. When that day comes, either he will be taken from his enjoyments, or they will be taken from hin. Either he will be stript of them altogether, or he will lofe the power of using them, or he will be . removed to ä place, whither he cannot carry them; and where the having formerly had them will be of no advantage, nor the recollection of it yield any fatiffaction. From this view we may form fome judgement of the real value of worldly happiness.
II. As to the Worth of the Soul.
The Worth of the Soul will in some degree appear from this consideration, that it is the most excellent part of man. It is that part of him, which thinks and wills;. that part of him, which governs and directs the body. The body can do nothing without the foul. It is the foul which moves the body, and tells it where to go, and what to do. It is the foul, which hopes and fears; which grieves and rejoices; which desires, and hates, and loves. If the soul be taken away, the body bea