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sickness and death. Our friends are torn from our bleeding hearts by the inexorable hand of death. Our liberty and property may be wrested from us by the hand of tyranny, oppression, or fraud. In a word, what do we enjoy but we may lose ? On the other hand, our miseries here are temporary; the heart receives many a wound, but it heals again. Poverty may end in riches; a clouded character may clear up, and from disgrace we may rise to honor ; we may recover from sickness; and if we lose one comfort, we may obtain another. But in eternity every thing is everlasting and unchangeable. Happiness and misery are both of them without end; and the subjects of both well know that this is the case. It is this perpetuity that finishes that happiness of the inhabitants of heaven ; the least suspicion of an end would intermingle itself with all their enjoyments, and embitter them: and the greater the happiness, the greater the anxiety at the expectation of losing it. But O, how transporting for the saints on high to look forward through the succession of eternal ages, with an assurance that they shall be happy through them all, and that they shall feel no change but from glory to glory! On the other hand, this is the bitterest ingredient in the cup of divine displeasure in the future state, that the misery is eternal. 0, with what horror does that despairing cry, For ever, for ever, for ever! echo through the vaults of hell Eternity is such an important attribute, that it gives infinite weight to things that would be insignificant, were they temporary. A small degree of happiness, if it be eternal, exceeds the greatest degree that is transitory; and a small degree of misery that is everlasting, is of greater importance than the greatest degree that soon comes to an end. Would you rather endure the most painful tortures that nature can bear for a moment, than an eternal toothache or headache ? Again, should we consider all the ingredients and causes of future happiness and misery, we should find them all everlasting. The blessed God is an inexhaustible perennial fountain of bliss; his image can never be erased from the hearts of glorified spirits; the great contemplation will always lie obvious to them; and they will always exist as the partakers and promoters of mutual bliss. On the other hand, in hell the worm of conscience dieth not, and the
fire is not quenched; divine justice is immortal ; malignant spirits will always exist as mutual tormentors, and their wicked habits will never be extirpated.
And now, need I offer any thing farther to convince you of the superior importance of invisible and eternal to visible and temporary things? Can a rational crea. ture be at a loss to choose in so plain a case? Can you need any arguments to convince you that an eternity of the most perfect happiness is rather to be chosen than a few years of sordid, unsatisfying delight? Or that the former should not be forfeited for the sake of the latter? Have you any remaining scruples, whether the little anxieties and mortifications of a pious life are more intolerable than everlasting punishment? 0! it is a plain case: what then mean an infatuated world, who lay out all their concern on temporal things, and neglect the important affairs of eternity? Let us illustrate this matter by supposition. Suppose a bird were to pick up and carry away a grain of sand or dust from the globe of this earth once in a thousand years, till it should be at length wholly carried away ; the duration which this would take up appears a kind of eternity to us. Now suppose it were put to our choice, either to be happy during this time, and miserable ever after, or to be miserable during this time, and happy ever after, which would you choose ? Why, though this duration seems endless, yet he would be a fool that would not make the latter choice; for, 0, 0! behind this vast duration, there lies an eternity, which exceeds it. infinitely more than this duration exceeds a moment. But we have no such seemingly puzzling choice as this; the matter with us stands thus-Will you choose the little sordid pleasures of sin that may perhaps not last an hour, at most, not many years, rather than everlasting pleasure of the sublimest kind? Will you rather endure intolerable torment for ever, than painfully endeavor to be holy? What does your conduct, my brethren, answer to these questions? If your tongues reply, they will perhaps for your credit give a right answer; but what say your prevailing disposition and common practice? are you not more thoughtful for time than eternity ? more concerned about visible vanities than invisible realities? If so, you make a fool's choice indeed. But let it be further considered, that the transitoriness
of visible things may imply that we must ere long be removed from them. Though they were immortal it would be nothing to us, since we are not so in our present state. Within a few years at most, we shall be beyond the reach of all happiness and misery from temporal things.
But when we pass out of this transitory state, we enter upon an everlasting state. Our souls will always exist; exist in a state of unchangeable, boundless happiness or misery. It is but a little while since we came into being out of a state of eternal non-existence ; but we shall never relapse into that state again. These little sparks of being shall never be extinguished! they will survive the ruins of the world, and kindle into immor. tality. When millions of millions of ages are past, we shall still be in existence: and O! in what unknown region! In that of endless bliss, or of interminable misery! Be this the most anxious inquiry of our lives?
Seeing then we must soon leave this world, and all its joys and sorrows, and seeing we must enter on an unchangeable, everlasting state of happiness or misery, be it our chief concern to end our present pilgrimage well. It matters but little whether we lie easy or not during this night of existence, if so be we awake in eternal day. It is but a trifle, hardly worth a thought, whether we be happy or miserable here, if we be happy for ever hereafter. What then mean the bustle and noise of mankind about the things of time? O, Sirs, eternity! awful, allimportant eternity, is the only thing that deserves a thought. I come,
1. To show the great and happy influence a suitable impression of the superior importance of invisible to visible things would have upon us. This I might exemplify in a variety of instances with respect to saints and sinners.
When we are tempted to any unlawful pleasures, how would we shrink away with horror from the pursuit, had we a due sense of the misery incurred, and the happiness forfeited by it!
When we find our hearts excessively eager after things below, had we a suitable view of eternal things, all these things would shrink into trifles hardly worth a thought, much less our principal concern.
When the sinner, for the sake of a little present ease, and to avoid a little present uneasiness, stifles his conscience, refuses to examine his condition, casts the thoughts of eternity out of his mind, and thinks it too hard to attend painfully on all the means of grace, has he then a due estimate of eternal things ? Alas! no ; he only looks at the things that are seen. Were the mouth of hell open before him, that he might behold its torments, and had he a sight of the joys of paradise, they would harden him into a generous insensibility of all the sorrows and anxieties of this life, and his inquiry would not be, whether these things required of him are easy; but, whether they are necessary to obtain eternal happiness, and avoid everlasting misery.
When we suffer any reproach or contempt on a reli+ gious account, how would a due estimate of eternal
things fortify us with undaunted courage and make us willing to climb to heaven through disgrace, rather than sink to hell with general applause !
How would a realizing view of eternal things animate us in our devotions ? Were this thought impressed on our hearts when in the secret or social duties of religion, “I am now acting for eternity," do you think we should pray, read, or hear with so much indifferency and languor? O no; it would rouse us out of our dead frames, and call forth all the vigor of our souls. With what unwearied importunity should we cry to God! with what eagerness hear the word of salvation !
How powerful an influence would a view of futurity have to alarm the secure sinner that has thought little of eternity all his life, though it be the only thing worth thinking of ?
How would it hasten the determination of the lingering, wavering sinner, and shock him at the thought of living one day unprepared on the very brink of eternity!
In a word, a suitable impression of this would quite alter the aspect of things in the world, and would turn the concern and activity of the world into another channel. Eternity then would be the principal concern. Our inquiries would not be, Who will show us any temporal good? What shall we eat, or what shall we drink? But, What shall we do to be saved ? How shall we escape the wrath to come? Let us then endeavor to impress our hearts with invisible things, and for that purpose consider, that,
We shall, ere long, be ingulfed in this awful eternity, whether we think of it or not. A few days or years will launch us there ; and O, the surprising scenes that will then open to us!
Without deep impressions of eternity on our hearts, and frequent thoughtfulness about it, we cannot be prepared for it.
And if we are not prepared for it, O, how inconceivably miserable our case! But if prepared, how inconceivably happy!
Looki not then 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.
THE SACRED IMPORT OF THE CHRISTIAN NAME.
Acts xi. 26.—The Disciples were called Christians first at
Mere names are empty sounds, and but of little consequence : and yet it must be owned there are names of honor and significancy; and, when they are attended with the things signified by them, they are of great and sacred importance.
Such is the Christian name; a name about seventeen hundred years old. And now, when the name is almost lost in party-distinctions, and the thing is almost lost in ignorance, error, vice, hypocrisy, and formality, it may be worth our while to consider the original import of that sacred name, as a proper expedient to recover both name and thing.
The name of Christian was not the first by which the followers of Christ were distinguished. Their enemies called them Galileans, Nazarenes, and other names of contempt: and among themselves they were called