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FIRST PREACHED DECEMBER 29, 1793.
1 THESS. Chap. IV. Ver. 13-18.
But I would not have you ignorant, Brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no Hope. For if we believe that JESUS died and rose again; even so, them also, which sleep in JESUS, will GoD bring with Him, &c.
IN my last Sunday's discourse*, from this luminous text, following our Apostle in his beautiful method of argument, through the Vale of the Shadow of Death-in order to allay its Terrors, dispel its Gloom, and illuminate our Passage to the brighter regions of another world; I found it necessary to address those (for such there are) whose attachment is so strong to their Good Things on earth, that they would be content with their portion here below forever; and either doubt the certainty of another world, or have not a full assurance, through Faith in the Gospel, of bettering their condition when their great and unavoidable change comes.
Sermon VII, antea.
St. Paul, in various passages, hath in general declared, “that the Good Things of this world, are not even worthy to be compared with that eternal weight of Glory and Happiness, which God hath prepared in another world, for those that love Him, and long for the appearance of their Redeemer and Judge at the last day." But this declaration is made to believers; to those, who through the Faith of Jesus, have exalted their views to another world, and have weighed in the balance the Good Things of this life, which are perishable, and the Joys of another, which are eternal!
The Good and Evil Things of this life, its fleeting Joys and unavoidable Miseries, compared with each other, and weighed in the scales of Reason, Experience, Wisdom and Philosophy, could not be interwoven with the arguments of St. Paul, which are evangelical; tending to shew "That supposing all the happiness our present mortal condition can bear, could be enjoyed, pure and without alloy; to the end of our short span; yet it is not the Happiness of immortal Beings, made in the Image of God, and capable of enjoying, through the atonement of a Redeemer, more than the Primæval Bliss of Paradise, and created to aspire after the happiness of Angels, by everlasting Approaches towards the Joy of God himself!
I might have enlarged upon this subject, namely, the hopes of a Resurrection of the Body from the Grave, and the anticipation of a re-union of the Soul and Body after death in a future more glorious and immortal State, from the writings of the wise men and
philosophers, even of the nations, who knew not the True God; and who made only random guesses concerning a world to come, awfully impressed with the certainty of their leaving this world, and something within them auguring an Hereafter, startling and convulsing their whole frame at the dreary thought of Annihilation and Non-entity! This is apparent from the Works and Remains of the Sages and Philosophers of all the oriental nations. The Greeks and Romans had the same notions, and with Heraclitus augured as follows:-" My Soul seems to vaticinate and presage its approaching dismission from its present prison; and looking out, as it were, through the cracks and cranies of this Body, to remember its native regions, from whence descending, it was clothed upon with grosser materials, fitting its mundane state." Such were the notions of Pythagoras, such those of Plato, whose philosophy is only an emanation from the Pythagorean School, where it is known he studied; and also enriched himself with the sentiments and philosophy of the Sages of Egypt, the Magi of Persia, and the Indian Cymnosophists.
As to the Greeks and Romans, Tully alone, (who had all the learning of all the Philosophers and Poets, and Wise men of both nations) shall speak their sentiments and prasages of another world, where the Soul is to be re-united to its former Body, and which includes their belief of a Resurrection of the Body, after death!
His Cato Major (sive Liber de Senectute) is a treasure of Learning, written in the Dialogue man- . ner, and has given him an opportunity of introduc
ing the sentiments of most of the Great Men of Greek and Roman name. Among these are to be found Hesiod, Homer, Sophocles, Simonides, Stesichorus, Isocritus, and those whom he calls, Philosophorum Principes, the Princes or Chiefs of Philosophers; namely-Pythagoras, Democritus, Plato, Xenocrates, Zeno, Cleanthes, Diogenes the Stoic, &c.-Men whose Usefulness, Old Age, he says, might check, but could not destroy, (non coegit in suis studiis obmutescere Senectus;) and the like is to be understood of those whose names follow; which I have taken nearly as Cicero introduces them to illustrate his subject, without strict regard to Chronological Order; viz.-" Titus Pomponius Atticus, Laelius & Scipio, Caius Salinator, Spurius Albinus, Cato senior, Qintus Maximus, Leontinus Gorgias, Ennius, T. Flamininus, Q. Maximus, L. Paulus, the Fabriccii, Currii, Coruncanii; App. Claudius, Lysimachus, Themistocles, Aristides, Oedipus Coloneus, Sex. Aelius, P. Crassus, Cyrus in Xenophon, L. Metellus, Nestor, Sophocles, Laertes; to whom he adds some of the great men who delighted in Agriculture, and after their conquests and triumphs, retired to devote their Old Age to the exercises of a country life; as Marcus Curius,LUCIUS QUINTIUS CINCINNATUS, Marcus Valerius Corvus, &c. of all whom, and sundry others, Cicero gives the Notabilia of their life and character; to which some reference will be had in a note to be hereunto annexed. But what Xenophon has put into the mouth of Cyrus Major, in an address to his children near the hour of his death; and the conclusion of the divine Cicero himself, to this book on
Old Age, supersedes the necessity of quoting any thing more from the Ancients, on the great subject before us.
Cyrus Major, on his death-bed, thus spake:"Think not, my dear children, that when I depart " from you at Death, I shall be Nowhere, or Nothing. "For, while I even lived with you, my Soul was "not seen by you; yet that it existed in the Body,
you might perceive and understand, from those acts "and things, in which you saw me employed. You "ought therefore to believe the same after my death,
if you see nothing more of the Soul, than you did "before: Nor would any honours be paid to the "memories of illustrious men after death, if their "Souls had not meditated and achieved something, "worthy of endearing their Memory to Posterity!
"For my part, I never could be persuaded to "think, that the Souls of Men, when hid in mortal "bodies, could Live; and that when released from "them they should Die, or become nothing; nor "can I be persuaded that the Soul should then be"come [insipient] Foolish or Sottish, when it escapes "from a foolish, sottish, or insipient Body*; but, "on the contrary, that when liberated from all cor"poreal mixture, it then begins to be pure, integral, "and sapient."-So far Cyrus.
Cicero, now proceeds to deliver his own divine Sentiments.
"No man, my dear Scipio, shall ever persuade me, either that your Father Paulus, your two Grand
* " Tum animum esse insipientem, cum ex insipienti corpore eva.