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man who strives for the kingdom of heaven SERM. will, besides, never think that he is good enough; he will be still aspiring at higher degrees of perfection. Let it not be thought, by the command which is laid upon us to strive after the kingdom of heaven, that it is meant that we should pay no regard to the concerns of this world; on the contrary, God expects from us a diligent performance of our duties towards each other, as well as of our duty to him: now this cannot be done without an attention to worldly concerns. How shall a father provide for his family without applying to his particular profession, or working at his particular calling? How shall the greater part of mankind get even a subsistence, if they do not exert themselves in some kind, either of study or labour? without this, they must, generally speaking, either starve, or be a burthen upon their neighbours. How is the earth to be cultivated and its fruits produced,
SERM. if it were unlawful to attend at all to worldly business, and what would become of the human race if this were neglected? Besides, the dangers of idleness are great, and it is impossible that the immediate duties of religion can take up our whole time; it is therefore as clearly a part of our duty to follow some honest method of getting a livelihood, and to follow it with diligence, as it is the first part to pray to, to praise, and to offer up our thanks to God.
But it is time for me to pass to the third thing I proposed, which is, to shew the weighty motives by which we are urged to be in the number of those that strive. this a few words will be sufficient.
These motives are no less than the good or bad condition in which we shall be in, from the time that we die, to all eternity, according as we are among this number, or are not.
The hour is coming, in the which all who
are in their graves shall hear the voice of the SERM. Son of God, and shall come forth; they that have done good, that is, they who have strove to gain heaven, unto the resurrection of life, and they who have done evil, that is, they who have not strove, unto the resurrection of damnation.
Let us frequently dwell upon this mag nificent and awful spectacle; let us represent to our minds the alarming trumpet of the archangel, by which we shall be awakened from our graves, and the summons which we shall receive to stand before the judgement seat of Christ let us suppose him seated on a lofty throne, surrounded by myriads of angels, and clothed with that splendor and majesty with which he was seen by Peter, James, and John, at his transfiguration, and again by those chosen disciples, who were present at his ascension into heaven: let us think of the grand scene of all the nations of the earth gathered before him, and the tremendous
SERM. dous decision about to take place, as to the final and everlasting condition of each individual. Let me appeal to your consciences, what hopes do they give you? I address myself to every one of you here present: Has thy conduct been such as to entitle thee to look for that transporting sentence, "Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord ?" Or hast thou not reason to apprehend the sound of these words (of all that can be uttered the most dreadful), "Depart from me thou cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels ?" If thou shrinkest with terror at this inquisition; if thou canst not bear thus to have thy conscience probed; if thou buoyest up thyself with some such consolation as this, "though my hopes are nothing now, I intend to repent and live better before I die," alas! how miserably dost thou deceive thyself! Attend to what I tell thee; almost all the wicked, who have gone before thee
thee comforted themselves in the same false manner, but they never thought the hour of reformation arrived; they were still for delaying it yet a little while longer, and were finally cut off with all their imperfections on their head. What gross folly is this! How soon does this world pass away, and how quickly does even the very remembrance of us perish; whereas to that which is to come there is no end! Let us think of these things; let us recollect that the kingdom of God is not to be got by seeking only; and when we remember of what infinite importance it is to us not to come short of it, let us resolve, and let us be steady to our resolutions, to be in the number of those who strive.