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gospel, that has so little effect in our age and country, shall yet shine like lightning, or like the sun, through all the dark regions of the earth. It shall triumph over Heathenism, Mahometanism, Judaism, Popery, and all those dangerous errors that have infected the Christian church. This gospel, poor negroes, shall yet reach your countrymen, whom you left behind you in Africa, in darkness and the shadow of death, and bless your eyes with the light of salvation : and the Indian savages, that are now ravaging our country, shall yet be transformed into lambs and doves by the gospel of peace. The scheme of Providence is not yet completed, and much remains to be accomplished of what God has spoken by his prophets, to ripen the world for the universal judgment; but when all these things are finished, then proclamation shall be made throughout all nature, “ That time shall be no more :" then the Supreme Judge, the same Jesus that ascended the cross, will ascend the throne, and review the affairs of time: then will he put an end to the present course of nature, and the present form of administration. Then shall heaven and hell be filled with their respective inhabitants : then will time close, and eternity run on in one uniform tenor, without end. But the kingdom of Christ, though altered in its situation and form of government, will not then come to a conclusion. His kingdom is strictly the kingdom of heaven; and at the end of this world, his subjects will only be removed from these lower regions into a more glorious country, where they and their King shall live together for ever in the most endearing intimacy; where the noise and commotions of this restless world, the revolutions and perturbations of kingdoms, the terrors of war and persecution, shall no more reach them ; but all will be perfect peace, love, and happiness, through immeasurable duration. This is the last and most illustrious state of the kingdom of Christ, now so small and weak in appearance: this is the final grand result of his administration : and it will appear to admiring worlds wisely planned, gloriously executed, and perfectly finished.
What conqueror ever erected such a kingdom! What subjects so completely, so lastingly happy, as those of the blessed Jesus !
THINGS UNSEEN TO BE PREFERRED TO THINGS SEEN.
2 Cor. iv. 18.-While we look not at the things which are
seen, but at the things which are not seen ; for the things which are seen are temporal : but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Among all the causes of the stupid unconcernedness of sinners about religion, and the feeble endeavors of saints to improve in it, there is none more common or more effectual
, than their not forming a due estimate of the things of time, in comparison of those of eternity. Our present affairs engross all our thoughts, and exhaust all our activity, though they are but transitory trifles; while the awful realities of the future world are hid from our eyes by the veil of flesh and the clouds of ignorance. Did these break in upon our minds in all their almighty evidence and tremendous importance, they would annihilate the most majestic vanities of the present state, obscure the glare of earthly glory, render all its pleasures insipid, and give us a noble sensibility under all its sorrows. A realizing view of these would shock the liber- . tine in his thoughtless career, tear off the hypocrite's mask, and inflame the devotion of the languishing saints. The concern of mankind would then be how they mighs make a safe exit out of this world, and not how they may live happy in it. Present pleasure and pain would be swallowed up in the prospect of everlasting happiness or misery hereafter. Eternity, awful eternity, would then be our serious contemplation. The pleasures of sin would strike us with horror, if they issue in eternal pain, and our present afflictions, however tedious and severe, would appear but light and momentary, if they work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
These were the views the apostle had of things, and these their effects upon him. He informs us in this chapter of his unwearied zeal to propagate the gospel amidst all the hardships and dangers that attend the painful discharge of his ministry. Though he bore about
in his body the dying of the Lord Jesus, though he was always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, yet he fainted not; and this was the prospect that animated him, that his “light affliction, which was but for a moment, would work out for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." When we view his sufferings absolutely, without any reference to eternity, they were very heavy and of many years' continuance; and when he represents them in this view, how moving is the relation! see 2 Cor. xi. 23-29. But when he views them in the light of eternity, and compared with their glorious issues, they sink into nothing; then scourging, stoning, imprisonment, and all the various deaths to which he was daily exposed, are but light, trifling afflictions, hardly worth naming ; then a series of uninterrupted sufferings for many years are but afflictions that endure for a moment. And when he views a glorious futurity, human language cannot express the ideas he has of the happiness reserved for him ; it is “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;" a noble sentiment! and expressed in the sublimest manner the language of mortals can admit of.
It is glory, in opposition to affliction ; a weight of glory, in opposition to light affliction; a massy, oppressive blessedness, which it requires all the powers of the soul, in their full exertion, to support : and in opposition to affliction for a moment, it is eternal glory: to finish all, it is a far more exceeding glory. * What greater idea can be grasped by the human mind, or expressed in the feeble language of mortality! Nothing but feeling that weight of glory could enlarge his conception : and nothing but the dialect of heaven could better express it. No wonder that, with this view of things, “he should reckon that the sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed.” Rom. viii. 18.
The apostle observes, that he formed this estimate of things, while he looked not at the “things which are seen, but at those which are not seen.” By the things that are seen, are meant the present life, and all the
The original far surpasses the best translation. The adjective abso. Iute [το ελαφρον της θλίψεως] is very significant ; and ηαθ' υπερολην εις vneponu is inimitable in any la'guage.
things of time; all the pleasures and pains, all the labors, pursuits, and amusements of the present state. By the things that are not seen, are intended all the invisible realities of the eternal world : all the beings, the enjoyments and sufferings that lie beyond the reach of human sight; as the great Father of spirits, the joys of paradise, and the punishment of hell
. We look on these invisible things, and not on those that are seen. This seems like a contradiction; but it is easily solved by understanding this act, described by looking, to be the act not of the bodily eye, but of faith and enlightened reason. Faith is defined by this apostle to be “the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.” Heb. xi. 1. And it is the apostle's chief design in that chapter, to give instances of the surprising efficacy of such a realizing belief of eterna! invisible things; see particularly ver. 10, 13, 14, 16, 25, 26, 27. Hence to look not at visible, but at invisible things, signifies that the apostle made the latter the chief objects of his contemplations, that he was governed in the whole of his conduct by the impression of eternal things, and not by the present; that he formed his maxims and schemes from a comprehensive survey of futurities, and not from a partial view of things present; and, in short, that he had acted as an expectant of eternity, and not as an everlasting inhabitant of this wretched world. This he elsewhere expresses in equivalent terms, “We walk by faith and not by sight.” 2 Cor. v. 7.
Further, he assigns a reason why he had a greater regard to invisible things than visible in the regulating of ħis conduct ; “ for the things which are seen, are temporal, but the things which are not seen,
says he, are eternal.” An important reason indeed! Eternity annexed to a trifle would advance it into infinite importance, but when it is the attribute of the most perfect happiness, or of the most exquisite misery, then it transcends all comparison : then all temporal happiness and misery, however great and long-continued, shrink into nothing, are drowned and lost, like the small drop of a bucket in the boundless ocean.
My present design, and the contents of the text, prescribe to me the following method:
I. I shall give you a comparative view of visible and
invisible things, that you may see the trifling nature of the one, and the importance of the other. This I choose to do under one head, because by placing these two classes of things in an immediate opposition, we may the more easily compare them, and see their infinite disparity. And,
II. I shall show you the great and happy influence a suitable impression of the superior importance of invisible to visible things would have upon us.
I. I shall give you a comparative view of visible and invisible things; and we may compare visible and invi. sible things, as to their intrinsic value, and as to their duration.
1. As to their intrinsic value ; and in this respect the disparity is inconceivable.
This I shall illustrate in the two comprehensive instances of pleasure and pain. To shun the one, and obtain the other, is the natural effort of the human mind. This is its aim in all its endeavors and pursuits. The innate desire of happiness and aversion to misery are the two great springs of all human activity : and, were these springs relaxed or broken, all business would cease, all activity would stagnate, and universal torpor would seize the world. And these principles are co-existent with the soul itself, and will continue in full vigor in a future state. Nay, as the soul will then be matured, and all its powers arrived to their complete perfection, this eagerness after happiness, and aversion to misery, will be also more quick and vigorous. The soul in its present state of infancy, like a young child, or a man enfeebled and stupified by sickness, is incapable of very deep sensations of pleasure and pain ; and hence an excess of joy, as well as sorrow, has sometimes dissolved its feeble union with the body. On this account we are incapable of such degrees of happiness or misery from the things of this world as beings of more lively sensations might receive from them; and much more are we incapable of the happiness or misery of the future world, until we have put on immortality. We cannot see God and live. Should the glory of heaven blaze upon us in all its insuperable splendor, it would overwhelm our feeble nature ; we could not support such a weight of glory. And one twinge of the agonies of hell would