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the imagination arise from three sources, grandeur, beauty, and novelty. Accordingly, we find by experience, our own imagination is gratified by surveying either grand, or beautiful, or uncommon objects. Let him be encompassed then with the most grand, the most beautiful, and the newest things that can any where be found. For all this is manifestly implied in a man's gaining the whole world.
4. But there is also another thing implied herein, which men of the most elevated spirits have preferred before all the pleasures of sense and of imagination put together; that is, honour, glory, and Tenown:
Virûn volilare per ora.
It seems, that hardly any principle of the human mind is of greater force than this. It triumphs over the strongest propensities of nature, over all our appetites and affections. If Brutus sheds the blood of his own children; if we see another Brutus in spite of every possible obligation, in defiance of all justice and gratitude,
“Cringing while he stabs his friend;" if a far greater man than either of these, Paschal Paoli, gave up vase, pleasure, every thing, for a life of constant toil, pain, and alarms : what principle could support them? They might talk of amor patriæ, the love of their country; but this would never have carried them through, had there not been also the
Laudum immensa cupido ;
the immense thirst of praise. Now the man we speak of, has gained abundance of this ; he is praised, if not admired, by all that are round about him. Nay, his name is gone forth into distant lands, as it were, to the ends of the earth.
5. Add to this, that he has gained abundance of wealth ; that there is no end of his treasures; that he has laid up silver as the dust, and gold as the sand of the sea. Now when a man has obtained all these pleasures, all that will gratify either the senses or the imagination; when he has gained an honourable name, and also laid up much treasure for many years; then he may be said, in an easy, natural sense of the word, to have gained the whole world.
II. 1. The next point we have to consider is, What is implied in a man's “ losing his own soul ?" But here we draw a deeper scene, and have need of a more steady attention. For it is easy to sum up all in a man's “gaining the whole world.” But it is not easy to understand all that is implied in his “ losing his own soul.” Indeed, none can fully conceive this, until he has passed through time into eternity.
2. The first thing which it undeniably implies, is the losing all the present pleasures of religion; all those which it affords to truly religious men, even in the present life. “ If there be any consolation in
Christ; if any comfort of love;" in the love of God, and of all mankind; if any “joy in the Holy Ghost ;" if there be a peace of God; a peace that passeth all understanding ; if there be any rejoicing in the testimony of a good conscience toward God; it is manifest, all this is totally lost, by the man that loses his own soul.
3. But the present life will soon be at an end: we know it passes away like a shadow. The hour is at hand, when the spirit will be summoned to return to God that gave it. In that awful moment,
Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view,
And whether he looks backward or forward, how pleasing is the prospect to him that saves his soul! If he looks back, he has “ the calm remembrance of a life well spent.” If he looks forward, there is an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away; and he sees the convoy of angels ready to carry him into Abraham's bosom. But how is it in that solemn hour, with the man that loses his soul ? Does he look back? What comfort is there in this ? He sees nothing but scenes of horror, matter of shame, remorse, and selfcondemnation ; a foretaste of “ the worm that never dieth.” If he looks forward, what does he see? No joy, no peace ! No gleam of hope from any point of heaven! Some years since, one who turned back as a dog to his vomit, was struck in his mid career of sin. A friend visiting him, prayed, “Lord, have mercy upon those who are just stepping out of the body, and know not which shall meet them at their entrance into the other world, an angel or a fiend.” The sick man shrieked out with a piercing cry, “ A fiend! a fiend !" and died. Just such an end, unless he die like an ox, may any man expect, who loses his own soul.
4. But in what a situation is the spirit of a good man, at his entrance into eternity ? See,
“The convoy attends,
They receive the new-born spirit, and conduct him safe into Abraham's bosom, into the delights of Paradise, the garden of God, where the light of his countenance perpetually shines. It is but one of a thousand commendations of this anti-chamber of heaven, that “there the wicked cease from troubling, there the weary are at rest.” For there they have numberless sources of happiness, which they could not have upon earth. There they meet with “ the glorious dead of ancient days.” They converse with Adam, first of men; with Noah, first of the new world; with Abraham, the friend of God; with Moses and the Prophets; with the Apostles of the Lamb; with the saints of all ages; and above all, they are with Christ.
5. How different, alas! is the case with him who loses his own soul! The moment he steps into eternity, he meets with the devil and his angels! Sad convoy into the world of spirits ! Sad earnest of what is to come! And either he is bound with chains of darknees; and reserved unto the judgment of the great day ; or, at best, he wanders up and down, seeking rest, but finding none. Perhaps he may seek it (like the “ unclean spirit cast out of the man”) in dry, dreary, desolate places : perhaps
Where Nature all in ruios lies,
And little comfort can be find here ! seeing every thing contributes to increase, not remove, the fearful expectation of fiery indignation, which will devour the ungodly. 6. For even this is to him but the beginning of sorrows.
Yet a little while, and he will see “the great white throne coming down from heaven, and Him that sitteth thereon, from whose face the heavens and the earth flee away, and there is found no place for them.” And “the dead, small and great, stand before God, and are judged every one according to his works.” « Then shall the King say to them on his right hand,” (God grant he may say so to you !) “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” And the angels shall tune their harps and sing, “ Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, that the heirs of glory may come in.” And then shall they “shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever and ever."
7. How different will be the lot of him that loses his own soul ! No joyful sentence will be pronounced on him, but one that will pierce him through with unutterable horror, (God forbid, that ever it should be pronounced on any of you that are here before God !) “ Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels?” And who can doubt, but those infernal spirits will immediately execute the sentence, will instantly drag those forsaken of God into their own place of torment ! Into those
“Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
And rest can never dwell! Hope never comes,
all the children of men who are on this side eternity. But not to them: the gulf is now fixed, over which they cannot pass. From the moment wherein they are nice plunged into the lake of fire, burning with brimstone, their torments are not only without intermission, but likewise without end. For “they have no rest, day or night; but the smoke of their torment ascendeth up
for ever and ever!”
III. Upon ever so cursory a view of these things, would not any one be astonished, that a man, that a creature endued with reason, should voluntarily choose ; I say choose ; for God forces no man into inevitable damnation : he never yet
“ Consign'd one unborn soul to hell,
Or damo'd him from his motber's womb;**
should choose thus to lose his own soul, though it were to gain the whole world! For what shall a man be profited thereby, upon the. whole of the account?
But a little to abate our astonishment at this, let us observe the suppositions which a man generally makes, before he can reconcile himself to this fatal choice.
1. He supposes, first, “ That a life of religion is a life of misery.” That religion is misery! How is it possible, that any one should entertain so strange a thought? Do any of you imagine this? If you do, the reason is plain; you know not what religion is. “No! But I do, as well as you.'
What is it then ? “Why, the doing no harm." Not so: many birds and beasts do no harm; yet they are not capable of religion. “ Then it is going to church and sacrament.” Indeed it is not. This may be an excellent help to religion; and every one who desires to save his soul, should attend them at all opportunities: yet it is possible you may attend them all your days, and still have no religion at all. Religion is a higher and deeper thing than any outward ordinance whatever.
2. “What is religion then ?" It is easy to answer, if we consult the oracles of God. According to these, it lies in one single point : it is neither more nor less than Love: it is love which “is the fulfilling of the law, the end of the commandment." Religion is the love of God and our neighbour; that is, every man under heaven. This love ruling the whole life, animating all our tempers and passions, directing all our thoughts, words, and actions, is “pure religion and undefiled.”
3. Now will any one be so hardy as to say, that love is misery? Is it misery to love God? to give him my heart, who alone is worthy of it? Nay, it is the truest happiness ; indeed, the only true happiness which is to be found under the sun. So does all experience prove the justness of that reflection which was made long ago, - Thou hast made us for thyself; and our heart cannot rest, until it resteth in thee.” Or does any one imagine the love of our neighbour is misery, even the loving every man as our own soul? So far from it, that, next to the love of God, this affords the greatest bappiqess of which we are capable. Therefore,
"Let not the Stoic boast his mind unmovid,
The brute-pbilosopher, who ne'er has prov'd
4. So much every reasonable man must allow. But he may object, * There is more than this implied in religion. It implies not only the love of God and man, (against which I have no objection,) but also a great deal of doing and suffering. And how can this be consistent with happiness?"
There is certainly some truth in this objection. Religion does imply both doing and suffering. Let us then calmly consider, whether this impairs or heightens our happiness.
Religion implies, first, the doing many things. For the love of God will naturally lead us, at all opportunities, to converse with him we love; to speak to him in public or private prayer, and to hear the words of his mouth, which are dearer to us than thousands of gold and silver.” It will incline us to lose no opportunity of receiving
“ The dear memorials of our dying Lord :"
to continue instant in thanksgiving; at morning, evening, and noonday to praise him. But suppose we do all this, will it lessen our happiness? Just the reverse. It is plain, all these fruits of love are means of increasing the love from which they spring; and of consequence they increase our happiness in the same proportion. Who then would not join in that wish,
"' Rising to sing my Saviour's praise,
Thee may I publish all day long :
Flow from my heart, and fill my tongue ;
5. It must also be allowed, that as the love of God naturally leads to works of piety, so the love of our neighbour naturally leads all that feel it, to works of mercy. It inclines us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to visit them that are sick or in prison; to be as eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame; a husband to the widow, a father to the fatherless. But can you suppose, that the doing this will prevent or lessen your happiness? Yea, though you did so much, as to be like a guardian angel to all that are round about you? On the contrary, it is an infallible truth, that
.“ All worldly joys are less
A man of pleasure was asked some years ago, “Captain, what was the greatest pleasure you ever had ?". After a little pause he replied, “When we were upon our march in Ireland, in a very hot day, I called at a cabin on the road, and (lesired a little water. The woman brought me a cup of milk. I gave her a piece of silver; and the joy that poor creature expressed, gave me the greatest pleasure I ever had in my life.” Now, if the doing good gave so much pleasure to one who acted merely from natural generosity, how much more must it give to one who does it on a nobler principle, the joint love of God and his neighbour? It remains, that the doing all which religion requites, will not lessen, but immensely increase our happiness. 6. “ Perhaps this also may be allowed. Bat religion implies, ac