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in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. And so, we shall ever be with the Lord.”
The children of the night, are, in the text, distributed into two subordinate descriptions. - They that sleep; and they that be drunken." The former, perhaps, only negatively; the latter, positively wicked. The one, leaving undone the things which they ought to do; the other, doing the things which they ought not to do. The former, careless, indolent, supine ; the latter, sensual, profligate, and carnal. The one, in a word, resembling the idiot, whose faculties are suspended ; the other resembling the madman, whose faculties are in a state of unnatural and ruinous activity.
Respecting the latter of these subdivisions, much need not be said. It were a waste of time to prove, what no reasonable person will deny, that vice and profligacy are inconsistent with good hope, and rational enjoyment. This is self-evident, irresistible truth. It must be admitted, even by the profligate themselves. And the conviction forms no slight part of their misery and condemnation. That virtue, which they cannot practise, they are constrained to admire. And, in moral matters, hopeless admiration is a source of bitter sorrow, But a severer pang is yet behind. They behold what they might have been ; they feel what they are ; they dread what they must become. They cannot exclude that keen remorse for the past, and that perturbed anxiety about the future, which mingle with their most premeditated gaiety. They cannot banish the terrors of a pure and holy God, who hates vice, and will punish it, no less assuredly than he loves virtue, and will reward it. They cannot fly from the agonizing conviction of an hereafter, whose pains they anticipate, whose torments they foreknow. “ There is no peace to the wicked, saith my God!"
And yet, the case of the cold, careless, indolent, sleeping Christian, is, perhaps, more awful. And why? Because it affords ampler room for self-delusion ; be
cause it implies less apprehension of danger; because it narrows the probabilities of recovery. Decided guilt commonly creates a keen sense of misery ; and a sense of misery often creates a thirst after deliverance. How many, like those Jews cut to the heart by Peter's preaching, or like the trembling and astonished Jailor at Phillippi, have been constrained, by the prospect of impending ruin, to exclaim
- “ What must we do to be saved ?” While still greater multitudes, little less withdrawn from the power of religion, self-satisfied in the performance of outward ceremonies, proud of their exemption from all grosser criminality, boastful of their scrupulous attention to lesser matters, but negligent of judgment, mercy, and faith, have arrogantly, and ignorantly, thanked their God, that they were not as other men. This, truly, is a condition of no common danger. Publicans and harlots, by repentance, gained the kingdom of heaven. The violent, also, took it by force. But the decent, ceremonious, cold
hearted scribes and pharisees, thought they needed no repentance. And the kingdom of God was taken from them. And the things belonging to their peace were hidden from their eyes. · The truth is, that holy Scripture abounds with denunciations, not merely against activity in evil, but against negligence of good. That slothful servant, who hid his talent in a napkin, is also called wicked. Yet, we do not find him charged with proAligacy or flagitiousness. He is merely accused of not employing his powers. It is simply as an unprofitable servant, that he is doomed to that outer darkness, where shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. · The parable of the ten virgins is another example. The outward difference between the wise and foolish, is hardly perceptible. They are all called virgins.
They were all chosen companions of the bridegroom. They were all observant of outward decorum. It is not said, that any wanted a wedding garment. And the lamps of all, had been alike burning. Yet, five of them were wise; and five, foolish. Five were admitted with the bridegroom; and five were excluded from the marriage feast. The exclusion, we may be sure, was just; the characters, we may rely upon it, were radically unlike. Where, then, lay the difference? The foolish vir, gins wanted that vigilant and thoughtful spirit, which, alone, can make provision for the future. They had no supply of oil in their vessels ; no vital principle of religion in their hearts. Their lamps afforded but a short-lived flame; their Christianity was no more than a transitory fervour. Therefore at the hour when the bridegroom came, they were unmeet for his reception. And so it shall be, at the coming of the Son of Man. For no careless, indolent, heartless Christian, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.