« PreviousContinue »
by a thousand circumstances, and who are rapidly and unceasingly hastening to their permanent habitation.
Such is human life! an eventful journey to eternity! What manner of persons ought we then to be in our conversation and conduct? This is an interesting inquiry, worthy of our most reverent and steady attention. To answer it will be the object of the present meditation.
1. As travellers on earth, whose days are as a shadow, and none of whom abideth, we ought habitually to look forward to eternity, our home. There, two kinds of abode await the whole race of mankind; one of perfect happiness, and the other of unmingled misery. Between the two, a great gulf is fixed, so that they which would pass from heaven to hell, cannot: neither can they pass to heaven, that would come from hell,
Our future state we ought ever to bear in mind, in all our pilgrimage. The information Scripture gives us on this subject, is clear, explicit, and interesting. It admits of no doubt; it allows no hesitation on our part. We ought to live with a wise reference to eternity : for what will it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his soul; or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? To forget the future whilst enjoying the present, in our temporal affairs, is improvident and criminal, and always brings along with it its punishment. To do so in our eternal interests, displays the extreme of folly, of debasement, and of sin. It discovers a lamentable derangement of our intellectual powers, an unpardonable ignorance of our true state here, and a wilful want of preparation for entering on a future state. To stay here or go hence, is not a matter of choice to us. We are subject to HIM, who called us into being, and who bids us at his pleasure return to dust. Shall we say we will not think of our home?
Or shall we conduct as if resolved to banish every idea of this home from our minds? Rather let us pray, Lord make us to know our end and the measure of our days, what it is! As we pass on, along the road of life, we ought habitually to muse upon the end of our journey, looking towards it with steadfast eye; never losing sight of it; dwelling upon it again and again, till it be familiar to us, the first subject of meditation in the morning when we rise froin our beds, and the last in the evening before we fall asleep. Thus doing, we will be often asking ourselves, what will the end of these things be, in which we are engaged ? We will examine ourselves narrowly, and give heed to our ways, lest we stumble and fall.
2. As travellers to eternity, we ought to be soli. citous about the way which leads to a happy home, to everlasting salvation. Inattention to his way leads the traveller into by-paths, where he wanders oftimes, until he perishes, far from his abode. It is not material what way a man takes, if he only thinks it the right way. There is but one way to heaven. It is narrow, beset with difficulties, ascending a steep and rugged hill. The pilgrim who essays to reach its summit, is oftimes wearied with toil, and almost abandons his design; but by faith he sees the prospect before him, and is revived. '3
For our direction we have the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. With these in our hands, and the Spirit who dictated them in our hearts, we need not fear of falling into any essential mistake. But they who abandon this directory, and grieve the Holy Spirit by resisting his operations, have no guide. They soon stray, and continue straying in the paths of error. Their passions mislead them; the world beguiles them; Satan leads them captive at pleasure. Flowers may apparently spring up under their feet. The scenes they behold may be beautiful; the country through which they pass full of delights.
Soon, however, darkness descends upon them, and age destroys their susceptibility of pleasure. The end of their journey appears full before them. It is not thee, Oh Jerusalem above! Thy gates do not unfold to them, to receive them. Mountains rise up before them, enveloped with mists ; dark mountains, which they reach--on which their feet stumble, and they fall-no more to rise. Such is the end of thousands, sad and melancholy. Such will be the end of all who do not seek to know the right way, the way God has revealed. That way is Jesus Christ, who hath purchased salvation for all who believe in him, and practise holiness. There is salvation in none else; for there is no other name given under heaven among men, whereby we can be saved! All who come unto the Father by him, shall in no wise be rejected ; but whosoever denieth the Son, denieth the Father also, and there is no life in him. Words cannot be more explicit than those of Scripture on this subject. Scripture must then be read with attention and perseverance; the preached word heard with reverence on every occasion; fervent and unceasing prayer offered up to God, that what we read and hear, we may understand and practise; and living faith, the gift of God, must be exercised. If we neglect the means of salvation, and do not believe the testimony of God concerning his Son, we cannot be solicitous about the way to heaven. If we say we are, we deceive ourselves; we are merely sporting to our own undoing. If we are in earnest, like a traveller lost, we will eagerly ask of all we meet, what course we must pursue. We will consult all the guides we find, and follow all the rules prescribed. We will distrust ourselves, our prejudices, our passions, the conclusions of our own judgment, because we realize that we are lost and ignorant of our way, and will yield ourselves to the guidance of God's Holy Spirit.
3. As travellers to eternity, we ought to guard against every temptation on the way, so that we do
not forget the end thereof, or stray in by-paths which lead to the chambers of death. With these temptations the world is filled. They are diversified, as well as numerous ; admirably adapted to the passions and appetites of sinners. Riches, honours, and pleasures, are all calculated to make us think ourselves at home in this world, and neglect the way of salvation through Christ. • This world, since the fall, has become a grand destroyer of our race. The God of this world blinds the minds of men, so that they see not their true state. He begets in them a love of the world above every thing else, so that they abuse, instead of using it. Thus that which in itself is good, through sin is become an instrument of evil. The world abounds with beauties and delights, exhibiting a diversified scenery of magnificence, usefulness, and elegance. Were our hearts right with God, we might enjoy whatever it affords without danger. But since we are sinners, we must guard against it, lest it usurp the place of God in our hearts, and thus become a source of ruin to ourselves.
How preposterous would it be for a traveller to be seduced from the remembrance of home, by the natural beauties of the country through which he passes, or to think the place where he lodges for a night, on account of its pleasant situation, to be his abiding place! Equally preposterous is it for us to be tempted by what we see in the world, to consider it our permanent abode. We are travellers, and as such, we ought to make the completion of our jour. ney our business: as such we may indeed indulge ourselves, but that only in those things, which will not make us forget ourselves. Hence we may learn to determine not only how far we may relax ourselves from the business of life by amusements, but also what amusements are innocent or guilty. Let men only realize that they are travellers to eternity, and that their duty is, to finish their journey, so that they may rest in heaven, and idle, frivolous, time-killing amusements will no longer be ad. vocated or enjoyed by any. Innocent amusements, or amusements which may be commenced and concluded by prayer, are only to be resorted to, for the purpose of unbending the mind, that it may afterwards resume its serious labours. They are like flowers that regale the senses, but cannot support or quicken our frail bodies. Other amusements strengthen natural corruption, and are unfit for the life of a traveller. They lead us from the right and narrow way to heaven, into the broad way, down to the chambers of death. Let none presume to dally with tempta, tion in any shape or form. Let not thine heart, traveller to eternity, decline to its ways. Go not astray in its paths, for it hath cast down many wounded, yea, many strong men have been slain by it. Its house is the way to hell. They that go down into it never return.
4. As travellers to eternity, we must bear with for. titude and patience the troubles and trials we may meet on the road. In a world like ours, inhabited by sinners, there is necessarily more misery than happiness. If we one day meet with the sunshine of prosperity, the next may be veiled with the clouds of adversity. In youth our morning may be clear, in age our evening may close in blackness of despair.
Wicked spirits roam about, and in the midst of us, seeking whom they may mislead, and wicked men ridicule and pester all who live as travellers ought to live. Our own passions, worldly cares, reverses of provi. dence, all, increase the difficulties and dangers of our way. We may sometimes have neither bread to eat, nor raiment to put on. After toiling all day, enduring inclement weather, how many return to an abode, open in every part to the winter's blast, and having little fuel to warm them with its heat, and cheer them with its blaze!