Serious thoughts for the living

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Serious thoughts for the living (c. 1800)
by James Hervey
3248791Serious thoughts for the livingc.1800James Hervey

Calculated to promote the Interests of Religion, Virtue, and Humanity.
No. VI.




The Living.

From Hervey's Meditations among the Tombs.

'Tis equally man's duty, glory, gain,
At once to shun and meditate his end.


Printed by G. Miller:—at whoſe Shop may be had a variety of Pamphlets, Ballads, Children's Books, Pictures, Catechiſms, &c.



Make the extended ſkies your tomb:
Let ſtars record your worth:
Yet know, vain mortals, all muſt die,
As nature's ſicklieſt birth.

Would bounteous Heav'n indulge my pray'r,
I frame a nobler choice;
Nor living, wiſh the pompous pue;
Nor dead, regret tbe loſs.

In thy fair book of life divine,
My God, inſcribe my name.
There let it fill ſome humble place,
Beneath the ſlaughter'd Lamb.

Thy ſaints, while ages roll away,
In endleſs fame ſurvive,
Their glories o'er the wrongs of time,
Greatly triumphant, live.

O! That they were wife's ſaid the inſpired penman. It was his laſt wiſh for his dear people: he breathed it out, and gave up the ghoſt.—But what is wiſdom? It conſiſts not in refined ſpeculations, accurate reſearches into nature, or an univerſal acquaintance with hiſtory. The divine Lawgiver ſettles this important point in his next aſpiration: Oh! that they underſtood this!

that they had right apprehenſions of their ſpiritual intereſts, and eternal concerns! that they had eyes to diſcern, and inclinations to purſue the things which belong to their peace!—But how ſhall they attain this valuable knowledge? I ſend them not, adds the illuſtrious teacher, to turn over all the volumes of literature: they may acquire, and much more expeditiouſly, this ſcene of life, by conſidering their latter end. This ſpark of heaven is often loft under the glitter of pompous erudition, but ſhines clearly in the gloomy manſions of the tomb. Drowned is this gentle whiſper amidſt the noiſe of mortal affairs, but ſpeaks diſtinctly in the retirements of ſerious contemplacion.—Behold! how providencially I am brought to the ſchool of wiſdom! The grave is the moſt faithful maſter; and theſe inſtances of mortality, the moſt inſtructive leſſons.—Come, then, calm attention, and compoſe my thoughts; come, thou celeſtial Spirit, and enlighten my mind; that I may ſo peruſe theſe awful pages, as to "become wiſe unto ſalvation."

Examining the records of mortality, I found the memorials of a promiſcuous multitude. They were huddled, at leaſt they reſted together, without any regard to rank or ſeniority. None were ambitious of the uppermoſt rooms, or chief ſeats, in this houſe of mourning. None entertained fond and eager expectations of being honourably greeted in their darkſome cells. The man of years and experience, reputed as an oracle in his generation, was content to lie down at the feet of a babe. In this houſe appointed for all living, the ſervant was equally accommodated, and lodged in the ſame ſtory with his maſter. The poor indigent lay as ſoftly, and ſlept as ſoundly, as the moſt opulent poſſeſſor. All the diſtinction that ſubſiſted, was a graſſy hillock, bound with oſiers; or a ſepulchral ſtone, ornamented with imagery.

Why then, ſaid my working thoughts, O! why ſhould we raiſe ſuch a mighty ſtir about ſuperiority and precedence, when the next remove will reduce us all so, a ſtate of equal meanneſs? Why ſhould we exalt ourſelves, or debaſe others; ſince we muſt all one day be upon a common level, and blended together in the ſame undiſtinguiſhed duſt? Oh! that this conſideration might humble my own and others pride: and ſink our imaginations as low as our habitation will ſhortly be!

Among theſe confuſed relics of humanity, there are, without doubt, perſons of contrary intereſts, and contradicting ſentiments: But death, like ſome able dayſman, has laid his hand on the contending parties, and brought all their differences to an amicable concluſion. Here enemies, ſworn enemies, dwell together in unity. They drop every embittered thought, and forget that they once were foes. Perhaps their crumbling boues mix as they moulder; and thoſe who, while they lived, ſtood, aloof in irreconcileable variance, here fall into mutual embraces, and even incorporate with each other in the grave.———Oh! that we might learn from theſe friendly aſhes, not to perpetuate the memory of injuries; not to foment the fever of reſentment; nor cheriſh the turbulence of paſſion; that there may be as little animoſity and diſagreement in the land of the living, as there is in the congregation of the dead!——

—One is tempted to exclaim againſt the king of terrors, and call him capriciouſly cruel. He ſeems, by beginning at the wrong end of the regiſter, to have inverted the laws of nature. Paſſing over the couch of decrepit age, he has nipped infancy in its bud; blaſted youth in its bloom; and torn up manhood in its full maturity.—Terrible indeed are theſe providences, yet not unſearchable the counſels:

For us they ſicken, and for us they die*[1].

Such ſtrokes muſt not only grieve the relatives, but ſurpriſe the whole neighbourhood. They found a powerful alarm to heedless dreaming mortals, and are intended as a remedy for our carnal ſecurity. Such paſſing bells inculcate loudly our Lord's admonition: "Take ye heed, watch, and pray; for ye know not when the time is.—"We nod, like intoxicated creatures, upon the very verge of a tremendous precipice. Theſe aſtoniſhing diſpenſations are the kind meſſengers of heaven, to rouſe us from our ſupineneſs, and quicken us into timely circumspection. I need not surely accommodate them with language, nor act as their interpreter. Let every one's conscience be awake, and this will appear their awful meaning:—"O! ye sons of men, in the midſt of life you are in death. No ſtate, no circumſtances, can ascertain your preservation a ſingle moment. So ſtrong is the tyrant's arm, that nothing can reſiſt its force; so true his aim, that nothing can elude the blow. Sudden as lightning, sometimes is his arrow launched; and wounds and kills, in the twinkling of an eye. Never promiſe yourſelf ſafety in an expedient, but conſtant preparation. The fatal ſhafts fly ſo promiſcuouſly, that none can gueſs the victim. Therefore, be ye always ready; for in ſuch an hour as ye think not, the final ſummons cometh."

Be ye always ready; for in ſuch an hour as ye think not.—Important admonition! Methinks, it reverberates from sepulchre to sepulchre, and addreſſes me with line upon line, precept upon precept. The reiterated warning, Iacknowledge, is too needful; may co-operating grace render it effectual! The momentous truth, though worthy to be engraved on the tables of a moſt tenacious memory, is but ſlightly ſketched on the tranſient flow of paſſion. We ſee our neighbours fall: we turn pale at the ſhock; and feel, perhaps, a trembling dread. No ſooner are they removed from our fight, but driven in the whirl of buſineſs, or lulled in the langours of pleaſure, we forget the providence, and neglect its errand. The impreſſion made on our unſtable minds, is like the trace of an arrow through the penetrated air, or the path of a keel in the furrowed wave. Strange ſtupidity!——

How thin is the partition between this world and another. How ſhort the tranſition from time to eternity!

Legions, legions of diſaſters, ſuch as no prudence can foreſee, and no care prevent, lie in wait to accompliſh our doom. A ſtarting horſe may throw his rider; may at once daſh his body againſt the ſtones, and fling his ſoul into the inviſible world. A ſtack of chimneys may tumble into the ſtreet, and cruſh the unwary paſſenger under the ruins; even a ſingle tile, dropping from the roof, may be as fatal as the fall of the whole ſtructure.—So frail, ſo very attenuated is the thread of life, that it not only burſts before the ſtorm, but breaks even at a breeze. The moſt common occurrences, thoſe from which we ſuſpect not the leaſt harm, may prove the weapons of our deſtruction. A grape-ſtone, a deſpicable fly, may be more mortal than Goliath, with all his formidable armour. Nay, if God give command, our very comforts become killing. The air we breathe, is our bane! and the food we eat, the vehicle of death.—That laſt enemy has unnumbered avenues for his approach: yea, lies entrenched in our very boſom, and holds his fortreſs in the ſeat of our life. The crimſon fluid, which diſtributes health, is impregnated with the ſeeds of death. Heat may inflame it, or toil oppreſs it, and make it deſtroy the parts it was deſigned to cheriſh. Some unſeen impediment may, obſtruct its paſſage, or ſome unknown violence may divert its courſe; in either of which caſes it acts the part of a poiſonous draught, or a deadly ſtab.

Ah! in what perils is vain life engag'd!
What ſlight neglects what trivial faults deſtroy
The hardieſt frame! Of indolence, of toil,
We die; of want, of ſuperſluity.
The all ſurrounding heav'n, the vital air
Is big with death.

Since then we are ſo liable to be diſpoſſeſſed of this earthly tabernacle, let us look upon ourſelves only as tenants at will; and hold ourſelves in perpetual readineſs to depart at a moment's warning. Without ſuch an habitual readineſs, we are like wretches that ſleep on the top of a maſt, while a horrid gulph yawns, or furious waves rage beow. And where can be the peace, what the ſatisfaction of ſuch a ſtate? Whereas, a prepared condition will inſpire a cheerfulneſs of temper, not to be diſmayed by any alarming accident, and create a firmneſs of mind, not to be overthrown by the moſt threatening dangers.

Here lie their bodies in "peaceable habitations, and quiet reſting-places." Here they have thrown off every burden, and are eſcaped from every ſnare. The head achs no more; the eye forgets to weep; the fleſh is no longer racked with acute, nor waſted with lingering diſtempers. Here they receive a final releaſe from pain, and an everlaſting diſcharge from ſorrows. Here danger never threatens them with her terrifying alarms; but tranquillity ſoftens their couch, and ſafety guards their repoſe.—Reſt then, ye precious relics, within this hoſpitable gloom; reſt in gentle ſlumbers till the laſt trumpet ſhall give the welcome ſignal, and ſound aloud, through all your ſilent manſions. "Ariſe, ſhine; for your light is come, and the glory of the Lord is riſen upon you."

To theſe, how calm was the evening of life! In what a ſmiling ſerenity did their ſun go down! When their fleſh and their heart failed, how reviving was the remembrance of an all ſufficient Redeemer; once dying for their ſins, now riſen again for their juſtification: How chearing the well grounded hope of pardon for their tranſgreſſions, and peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord! How did this aſſuage the agonies, and ſweeten the bitterneſs of death?—Where now is wealth, with all her golden mountains? Where is honour, with her proud trophies of renown? Where are all the vain pomps of a deluded world? Can they inſpire ſuch comfort, can they adminiſter any ſupport, in this laſt extremity? Can they compoſe the affrighted thoughts, or buoy up the departing ſoul, amidſt all the pangs of diſſolution?——The followers of the Lamb ſeem pleaſed and triumphant even at their laſt gaſp. "God's everlaſting arms are underneath" their fainting heads. His Spirit whiſpers peace and conſolation to their conſciences. In the ſtrength of theſe heavenly ſuccours they quit the field, not captives but conquerors; with "hopes full of immortality."

And now they are gone.——The ſtruggles of reluctant nature are over- The body ſleeps in death, the ſoul launches into the inviſible ſtate.—But who can imagine the delightful ſurpriſe, when they and themſelves ſurrounded by guardian angels, inſtead of weeping friends? How ſecurely do they wing their way, and paſs through unknown worlds, under the conduct of thoſe celeſtial guides!—The vale of tears is quite loſt. Farewel, for ever, the realms of woe, and range of malignant beings! They arrive on the frontiers of inexpreſſible felicity. They "are come to the city of the living God." while a voice, ſweeter than muſic in her ſofteſt ſtrains, ſweet as the harmony of hymning ſeraphim, congratulates their arrival, and beſpeaks their admiſſion: Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlaſting doors, that the heirs of glory may enter in.

Here, then, let us leave the ſpirits and ſouls of the righteous, eſcaped from an entangling wilderness, and received into a paradiſe of delights! escaped from the territories of disquietude, and settled in regions of unmoleſted security! Here they ſit down with Abraham, Iſaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of their Father. Here they mingle with an innumerable company of angels, and rejoice around the throne of the Lamb; rejoice in the fruition of present felicity, and in the aſſured expectation of an inconceivable addition to their bliss; when GOD ſhall call the heavens from above, and the earth, that he may judge his people.

Fools accounted their life madness, and their end to be without honour; but they are numbered among the children of GOD, and their lot, their diſtinguiſhed and eternal lot, is among the saints! However, therefore, an undiscerning world may diſpise, and a profane world vilify, the truly religious; be this the supreme, the invariable deſire of my heart! "Let me live the life, and die the death, of the righteous. Oh! let my latter end, and future ſtate, be like theirs."

The only infallible way of immortalizing our characters, a way equally open to the meaneſt and moſt exalted fortune, is "to make our calling and election ſure;" to gain ſome ſweet evidence, that our names are written in heaven. Then, however they may be diſregarded or forgotten among men, they will not fail to be had in everlaſting remembrance, before the Lord.——This is, of all diſtinctions, far, the nobleſt; this will iſſue in never-dying renown. Ambition, be this thy object, and every page of ſcripture will ſanctify thy paſſion; even grace itſelf will fan thy flame.—As to earthly memorials, yet a little while, and they are all obliterated. The tongue of thoſe, whoſe, happineſs we have zealouſly promoted, muſt ſoon be ſilent in the coffin. Characters cut with a pen of iron, and committed to the ſolid rock, will, ere long, ceaſe to be legible. But as many as are inrolled "in the Lamb's book of life," he himſelf declares, ſhall never be blotted out from thoſe annals of eternity. When a flight of years has mouldered the triumphal column into duſt; when the brazen ſtatue periſhes, under the corroding hand of time; thoſe honours ſtill continue; ſtill are blooming and incorruptible, in the world of glory.

Could we draw back the covering of the tomb; could we diſcern what thoſe are now, who once were mortals?———oh! how would it ſurpriſe and grieve us! Surpriſe us, to behold the prodigious transformation which has taken place on every individual; grieve us, to obſerve the diſhonour done to our nature in general, within theſe ſubterrancous lodgments!

Here the ſweet and winning aſpect, that wore perpetually an attractive ſmile, grins horribly a naked, ghaſtly ſcull.—The eye, that outſhined the diamond's brilliancy, and glanced its lovely lightning into the moſt guarded heart, alas! where is it? Where ſhall we find the rolling ſparkler!—How are all its ſprightly beams eclipſed, totally eclipſed!—The tongue, that once commanded all the ſweetneſs of harmony, and all the powers of eloquence, in this ſtrange land has "forgot its cunning." Where are now cloſe ſtrains of melody, which raviſhed our ears? Where is that flow of perſuaſion, which carried captive our judgements? The great maſter of language, and of ſong, is become ſilent as the night that ſurrounds him.—The pampered fleſh, ſo lately clothed in purple and fine linen, how is it covered rudely with clods of clay! There was a time when the timorouſly nice creature would ſcarce "adventure to ſet a foot upon the ground, for delicateneſs and tenderneſs, but is now enwrapped in clammy earth, and ſleeps on no ſofter a pillow than the rugged gravelſtones.—Here "the ſtrong men bow themſelves;" the nervous arm is unſtrung; the brawny ſinews are relaxed; the limbs not long ago the ſeats of vigour and activity, lie down motionleſs, and the bones, which were as bars of iron, are crumbled into duſt.

Here the man of buſineſs forgets all his favourite ſchemes, and diſcontinues the purſuit of gain. Here is a total ſtand to the circulation of merchandize, and the hurry of trade. In theſe ſolitary receſſes, as in the building of Solomon's temple, is heard no ſound of the hammer and axe. The winding-ſheet, and the coffin, are the utmoſt bound of all earthly devices; "Hitherto may they go, but no further."—Here the ſons of pleaſure take a final farewel of their dear delights. No more is the ſenſualiſt anointed with oil, or crowned with roſebuds; he chants no more to the melody of the viol, nor revels any longer at the banquet of wine. Inſtead of ſumptuous tables, and delicious treats, the poor voluptuary is himſelf a feaſt for fattened inſects; the reptile riots in his fleſh; "the worm feeds ſweetly on him".—Here alſo beauty fails: bright beauty drops her luſtre here. O! how there roſes fade, and her lilies languiſh, in this bleak ſoil! How does the grand leveller pour contempt upon the charmer of our hearts! How turn to deformity, what captivated the world before!

Should one of theſe ghaſtly figures burſt from his confinement, and ſtart up in frightful deformity, before me;—ſhould the haggard ſkeleton lift a clattering hand, and point it full in my view;—ſhould it open the ſtiffened jaws, and, with a hoarſe tremendous murmur, break this profound ſilence;—ſhould it accoſt me, as Samuel's apparition addreſſed the trembling king,—"The Lord ſhall deliver thee alſo into the hands of death; yet a little while, and thou ſhalt be with me"—The ſolemn warning, delivered in ſo ſtriking a manner; muſt ſtrongly impreſs my imagination; a meſſage in thunder would ſcarce ſink deeper.—Yet there is abundantly greater reaſon to be alarmed, by that expreſs declaration of the Lord God Almighty, "Thou ſhalt ſurely die"—Well then, ſince ſentence is paſſed, ſince I am a condemned man, and know not when the dead warran may arrive; let me die to ſin, and die to the world, before I die beneath the ſtroke of a righteous God. Let me employ the little uncertain interval of reſpite from execution, in preparing for a happier ſtate, and a better life; that, when the fatal moment comes, and I am commanded to ſhut my eyes upon all things here below, I may open them again, to ſee my Saviour in the manſions above.

Since this body, which is ſo fearfully and wonderfully made, muſt fall to pieces in the grave; ſince I muſt ſoon reſign all my bodily powers to darkness, inactivity, and corruption; let it be my conſtant care to uſe them well, while I poſſeſs them!———Let my hands be ſtretched forth to relieve the needy; and always be "more ready to give than to receive."—Let my knees bend, in deepeſt humiliation, before the throne of grace; while my eyes are caſt down to the earth, in penitential confuſion, or devoutly looking up to heaven for pardoning mercy

In every friendly interview, let the "law of kindneſs dwell on my lips;" or rather if the ſeriousneſs of my acquaintance permits let the goſpel of peace flow from my tongue. O! that I might be enabled, in every public concourſe, to lift up my voice like a trumpet; and pour abroad a more joyful found than its moſt melodious accents, in proclaiming the glad tidings of free ſalvation!—Be ſhut, my ears, reſolutely ſhut, againſt the malevolent whiſpers of ſlander, and the contagious breath of filthy talking; but be ſwift to hear the inſtructions of wiſdom, be all attention, when your Redeemer ſpeaks; imbibe the precious truths and convey them carefully to the heart.—Carry me my feet, to the temple of the Lord; to the beds of the ſick, and houſes of the poor—May all my members, devoted entirely to my divine Maſter, be the willing inſtruments of promoting his glory.

Then, ye embalmers, you may ſpare your pains: theſe works of faith, and labours of love; theſe ſhall be my ſpices and perfumes. Enwrapped in theſe, I would lay me gently down and ſleep ſweetly in the bleſſed Jesus; hoping that God will "give commandment of concerning my bones;" and one day fetch them up from the duſt, as ſilver from the furnace, purified, "I ſay not, ſeven times, but ſeventy times ſeven."

Reſurrection! that chearing word eases my mind of an anxious thought, and ſolves a moſt momentous queſtion. I was going to aſk, "Wherefore do all theſe corpſes lie here, in this abject condition? Is this their final ſtate? Has death conquered? and will the tyrant hold captivity captive? How long wilt thou forget them, O Lord? For ever?——"No, saith the voice from heaven, the word of divine revelation; The righteous are all "priſoners of hope." There is an hour (an awful ſecret that, and known only to all-foreſeeing wiſdom) an appointed hour there is, when an act of grace will paſs the great ſeal above, and give them an univerſal diſcharge, a general delivery from the abodes of corruption.—Then ſhall the Lord Jesus deſcend from heaven, with the ſhout of the archangel, and the trump of God. Deſtruction itſelf ſhall hear his call, and the obedient grave give up her dead. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, they ſhake off the ſleep of ten thouſand years, and ſpring forth, like the bounding rое, "to meet their Lord in the air."

And, O! with what cordial congratulations, what tranſporting endearments, do the ſoul and body, thoſe affectionate companions, re-unite! But with how much greater demonſtrations of kindneſs, are they both received by their compaſſionate Redeemer! The Ancient of days, who comes in the clouds of heaven, is their friend, their father, their bridegroom. He comes with irreſiſtible power, and infinite glory. But they have nothing to fear from his majeſtic appearance. Thoſe tremendous ſolemnities, which ſpread deſolation and aſtoniſhment through the univerſe, ſerve only to inflame their love, and heighten their hopes. The Judge, the awful Judge, amidſt all his magnificence and ſplendour, vouchſafes to confeſs their names; vouchſafes to commemorate their fidelity, before all the inhabitants of the ſkies, and the whole aſſembled world.

Hark! the thunders are huſhed. See! the lightnings ceaſe their rage; the angelic armies ſtand in ſilent ſuſpenſe; the whole race of Adam is wrapt in pleaſing or anxious expectation.———And now that adorable perſon, whoſe favour is better than life, whoſe acceptance is a crown of glory, lifts up the light of his countenance upon the righteous. He ſpeaks; and what raviſhing words proceed from his gracious lips! What ecſtaſies of delight they enkindle in the breaſts of the faithful! "I accept you, O my people! Ye are they that believed in my name. Ye are they that renounced yourſelves, and are complete in me. I ſee no ſpot or blemiſh in you; for ye are waſhed in my blood, and clothed in my righteouſneſs. Renewed by my Spirit, ye have glorified me on earth, and have been faithful unto death. Come, then, ye ſervants of holineſs, enter into the joy of your Lord. Come, ye children of light, ye bleſſed of my Father, receive the kingdom that ſhall never be removed; wear the crown which fadeth not away; and enjoy pleaſures for evermore!

The wicked—My mind recoils at the apprehenſion of their miſery. It has ſtudiouſly waved the fearful ſubject, and ſeems unwilling to purſue it even now.—But, 'tis better to reflect upon it for a few minutes, than to endure it to eternal ages.

The wicked ſeem to lie here, like malefactors in a deep and ſtrong dungeon, reſerved againſt the day of trial.—"Their departure was without peace." When the laſt ſickneſs ſeized their frame, and the inevitable change advanced; when they ſaw the fatal arrow fitting to the ſtrings; ſaw the deadly archer aiming at their heart; and felt the envenomed ſhaft faſtened in their vitals—Good God! what fearfulneſs came upon them! what horrible dread overwhelmed them! How did they ſtand ſhuddering and aghaſt upon the tremendous precipice; exceſſively afraid to plunge into the abyſſ of eternity, yet utterly unable to maintain their ſtanding on the verge of life.

O! what pale reviews, what ſtartling proſpects, conſpire to augment their ſorrows!—They look backward, and behold, a moſt melancholy ſcene! Sins unrepented of, mercy ſlighted, and the day of grace ending.—They look forward, and nothing preſents itſelf but the righteous Judge, the dreadful tribunal, and a moſt ſolemn reckoning.———They roll around their arighted eyes on attending friends. If accomplices in debauchery, it ſharpens their anguiſh, to conſider this further aggravation of their guilt that they have not finned alone, but drawn others into the ſnare. If religious acquainance, it ſtrikes a freſh gaſh into their hearts, to think of never ſeeing them any more, but only at an unapproachable diſtance, separated by the unpaſſable gulph.

At laſt, perhaps, they begin to pray: But why have they deferred, ſo long deferred their addreſſes to God? Why have they deſpiſed all his counſels, and ſtood incorrigible under his inceſſant reproofs? How often have they been forewarned of theſe terrors, and moſt importunately entreated to ſeek the LORD, while he might be found?—I wiſh they may obtain mercy at the eleventh, at the laſt hour. But, alas! who can tell, whether affronted Majeſty will lend an ear to their complaint? whether the holy One will work a miracle of grace in behalf of ſuch tranſgreſſors? He may, for aught any mortal knows, "laugh at their calamity, & mock when their fear cometh."

Thus they lie groaning out the poor remains of life; their limbs bathed in ſweet; their heart ſtruggling with convulſive throes; pains unſupportable throbbing thro' every pulſe; and innumerable darts of agony transfixing their conſcience.

Happy diſſolution! were this the period of their woes. But, alas! all these tribulations are only the "beginning of ſorrows;" a ſmall drop only from that cup of trembling which is mingled for their future portion.——No ſooner has the laſt pang diſlodged their reluctant ſouls, but they are hurried into the preſence of an injured, angry God;—Reſurrection will be no privilege to them; but immortality itſelf their everlaſting curſe.—Would they not bleſs the grave, "that land where all things are forgotten;" and wiſh to lie eternally hid in its deepeſt gloom? But the duſt refuſes to conceal their perſons, or to draw a veil over their practices. They muſt alſo awake; muſt ariſe; muſt appear at the bar; and meet the Judge; a Judge before whom "the pillars of heaven tremble, and the earth melts away:" a Judge, once long-ſuffering and very compaſſionate, but now unalterably determined to teach ſtubborn offenders,—what it is to provoke the omnipotent Godhead; what it is to trample upon the blood of his Son, and offer deſpite to all the gracious overtures of his Spirit,

Behold! the books are opened; the ſecrets aſ all hearts are diſcloſed; the hidden things of darkneſs are brought to light. How empty, how ineffectual now, are all thoſe refined artifices, with which hypocrites impoſed upon their fellow-creatures, and preſerved a character in the fight of men! The jealous GOD, who has been about their path, and about their bed, and 'ſpied out all their ways, "ſets before them the things that they have done." They cannot anſwer him one in a thouſand, nor ſtand in the awful judgement. The heavens reveal their iniquities, and the earth riſes up againſt them. They (illegible text)e ſpeechleſs with guilt, and ſtigmatized with infamy before all the armies of the ſky and all the nations of the redeemed.—

How muſt the wretches ſcream with wild amazement, and rend the very heavens with their cries, when the right-aiming thunder bolts go abroad! abroad with a dreadful admiſſion, to drive them from the kingdom of glory; and plunge them,——not into the (illegible text)rrows of a moment, or the tortures of an hour,—but into all the reſtleſs agonies of unquenchable fire, and everlaſting deſpair.

Miſery of miſeries! too ſhocking for reflection to dwell upon. But, if ſo diſmal to (illegible text)reſee, and that at a diſtance, together with some comfortable expectation of eſcaping it.—O! how bitter, inconceivably bitter, to hear, without any intermiſſion, or any mitigation, through hopeleſs and eternal ages.

Wonder, O man; be loſt in admiration, of thoſe prodigious events which are coming upon the univerſe: events, the greatneſs of which nothing finite can meaſure; ſuch as will cauſe whatever is conſiderable or momentous in the annals of all generations, to sink into littleneſs and nothing. Events of Jesus, prepare us for their approach! demand us, when they take place!) big with the overlaſting fates of all the living, and all the dead.—I muſt ſee the graves cleaving, the (illegible text)a teeming, and ſwarms unſuſpected, crowds unnumbered, yea multitudes of thronging (illegible text)ations, riſing from both.——I muſt ſee the world in flames; muſt ſtand at the diſſolution of all terreſtial things; and be an attendant on the burial of nature.—I muſt ſee the vaſt expanſe of the ſky wrapt up like a ſcroll; and the incarnate God, iſſuing forth from light inacceſſible, with ten thouſand times ten thouſand angels, to judge both men and devils.——I muſt ſee the curtain of time drop; ſee all eternity disclosed to view: and enter upon a ſtate of being, that will never, never have an end.

And ought I not (let the vaineſt imagination determine; ought I not) to try the ſincerity of my faith, and take heed to my ways? Is there an inquiry, is there a care, of greater, of equal, of comparable importance?——Is not this an infinitely preſſing call, to ſee that my loins are girded about, my lamp trimmed, and myself dreſſed for the Bridegroom's appearance; that, waſhed in the fountain opened in my Saviour's ſide, and clad with the marriage garment, wove by his obedience I may be found in peace, unblameable, and unreprovable. Otherwise how ſhall I ſtand with boldness, when the ſtars of heaven fall from their orbs? how ſhall I come forth erect and courageous, when the earth itself reels to and fro like a drunkard? how ſhall I look up with joy, and see my salvation drawing nigh, when the hearts of millions and millions fail for fear?


Printed by G Miller, Dunbar.

This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

Public domainPublic domainfalsefalse

  1. *Night Thoughts.