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Thomas Wilson.

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rable of men, before He would reward his patience and piety
with a crowd of unexpected blessings. It was thus that God
visited the man after His own heart, even after He had de-
signed him for the greatest happiness. In short, it was thus
the Son of God Himself was dealt with ; this was the way
which He hath sanctified by His blessed example, command-
ing His disciples to follow His steps, encouraging them in
their sufferings with the promises of eternal blessings.

II. Secondly ; A firm belief of what we shall be after the



454 THE RESURUECTION ; OU,

SERM. resurrection, will help to cure us of a too great fondness for the

' — world.

What would an angel give for the best estate or place upon
earth? Why do not we believe that a time is coming, when
we shall be as much above all the glories of this world, as the
angels are now ? Yes, we believe this ; but our fault is we
do not lay it to heart ; we do not compare the happiness of
heaven with the present advantages we either aim at or en-
joy. We do not, as the Apostle tells us all true believers do,

2 Cor. 4. 18. " Look not at the things which are seen, but at the things
which are not seen ; for the things which are seen are tem-
poral, but the things which are not seen are eternal ;" that
is, a true believer keeps his eye upon what he expects here-
after, and will not be diverted from pursuing a crown of glory
that fadeth not away, by every tempting trifle he meets with
in the way.

Thus, when Abraham had God^s promise that he should
have a son, that his seed should in after-ages possess that
land in which he was a stranger, he was as well satisfied as
if the thing had already come to pass, and he acted accord-
ingly. He weaned his aifections from his native country;
he would not be tempted to stay in fruitful Egypt any longer
than his necessities required; neither his own nor his wife's
great age hindered him from depending upon the promises of
God ; and God rewarded his faith, and answered the desires
of his heart.

Why now, good christians, we have the word of the Son of

[1 Cor. 15. God for it, that in a short time, " when this mortal shall have

■-' put on immortality," we shall be as happy as the angels of

God. Then we shall be amazed at the madness of those who

preferred a temporal gain, or pleasure, or honour, to the glories

of heaven, which will last for ever.

And oh ! that christians would but lay this seriously to
heart, before it is too late ; that they would behave themselves

[1 Pet. 2. as strangers and pilgrims in this world, and look upon the

^^•J next as the place where true joys are to be found. Then

should we not be tempted with earthly pleasures, nor doat
upon the thhigs now, which we shall then despise and abhor ;
and be astonished that creatures made for, and having the
promise of eternal happiness, if they will but in good earnest



THE REWARD OF HOLINESS. 455

strive for it, should yet choose eternal death, rather than re-
nounce a present, short, unsatisfactory enjoyment.

We find by sad experience, that not only the enjoyment,
but the very desire of the good things of this world, does very
much indispose, and hinder us from pursuing the prize of our
high calling, with that earnestness which it deserves. " How [Luke 18.
hardly (saith our Lord) shall they that have riches enter into '-'
the kingdom of heaven." For they have so many and strong
temptations to love this world, and set up their rest here,
that the happiness of the world to come finds no place in
their thoughts.

Happy then are they, who have seen the vanity of this
world, and have so long considered the blessings of the world
to come, that faith has made those blessings present to them ;
and they see and feel (what others laugh at them for) that
for the joys of heaven, though at a distance, one ought to
part with any satisfaction upon earth.

III. Thirdly ; A firm belief of the consequences of the resur-
rection loill very much help us to run with patience the race
that is set before us: that is, it will help us to perform all
those duties of Christianity, which are absolutely necessary
to fit us for heaven. For if we believe that God is a rewarder
of such as diligently seek Him ; if we are thoroughly con-
vinced of this, and that the reward we expect will be incon-
ceivably great ; then shall we apply ourselves to the obtain-
ing it, like men that are really in earnest, with unwearied
diligence.

And truly, there is need of a right understanding of these
things, of a firm faith, and very lively hopes, and most glo-
rious promises, to make us go through so many Christian
duties, which are so uneasy to flesh and blood, and yet are
indispensably necessary to eternal happiness.

For my part, I should be at a loss for arguments to per-
suade a man, either to watch, or pray, or to deny himself, or
to be in charity with all men, if I could not first convince
him that he will be the greatest gainer by doing these
things ; particularly, that he has the promise of a most glo-
rious reward; that he has many and powerful enemies that
envy him such a reward, and will not fail to divert him from
pursuing it, if he is not very watchful over himself; that God



456 THE RESURRECTION ; OR,

SERM. will give him all the assistance that is necessary, provided he
— - — ^ — -prays for it with the seriousness of one that is in good ear-



nest ; that the life and joys of heaven will be quite of an-
other kind than those which we are naturally fond of here ;
that therefore we must wean our affections from sensual
pleasures, bring ourselves by degrees to follow the will of
God with readiness and satisfaction, whenever we know it ;
this being one of the duties, and the delight of the inhabit-
ants of heaven : in short, that we must use some self-denial
to effect this, and to alter the bent of our inclinations, or
else we shall never be happy as we hope to be.

Lastly; if I could convince him, that in heaven there is
no sourness of temper, no selfish ends, no jarring or undermin-
ing one another, no jealousy and suspicion ; that such evil
dispositions as these will render a man utterly incapable of
heaven, where all the inhabitants live in good understanding
with one another, and in the strictest bonds of love, rejoicing
in one another's happiness, and praising God for His good-
ness to others as well as to themselves.

When a man is once convinced of this, then he will see
how necessary that charity is, which the Gospel requires, to
help us to get rid in time of such evil affections and habits,
as, if not cured here, will most surely hinder us of the happi-
ness we expect there.

And seeing the reasonableness of these duties, and how

[Col. 1. 12.] absolutely necessary they are, to make us meet to be partakers
of the inheritance of the saints in light, a christian will set
about them in good earnest, as he hopes for salvation : at
least, if this will not prevail with us to do so, nothing else
will. St. Paul, therefore, concludes all his discourse of the
resurrection, and everlasting life after death, with these

1 Cor. 15. words : " Be ye therefore stedfast, unmoveable, always
abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know
that your labour is not in vain in the Lord;" intimating,
that the serious belief of an immortal happiness will keep us
stedfast in the faith, notwithstanding the troubles we meet
with ; unmoved by the temptations of the world : always
abounding in the work of the Lord ; that is, doing the duties
of Christianity with patience and joy in the Holy Ghost.
And now, good christians, vou see, first, how much it con-



THE KEWARD OF HOLINESS. 457

cerns every body who professes to believe the resurrection of
the body, and an everlasting life after death, so to order his
life in this world, that in the next he may be happy.

Consider, secondly, whence you have this assurance of im-
mortal happiness. It is not from conjecture, not from the
vain and weak reasonings of men like ourselves^ hut from the
mouth of the Son of God. It is He who tells us, that the
children of the resurrection shall never die, but shall be
equal to the angels.

But then observe, thirdly, that the same God of Truth,
Who gives us this comfortable hope, assures us, at the same
time, that there is something to be done on our part, in
order to obtain it. It is not every one who professes to
believe these things that shall be happy as angels, but they
that shall be ivorthy ; that is, they, who through faith in the
promises of God, have been encouraged to deny all "ungod- [Tit. 2.12.]
liness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and
godly, in this present world/' looking for that blessed hope
which God has given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ.

So that the belief of a resurrection, and an everlasting
life, will easily be perceived to be of little use or comfort to
one who will not be persuaded to prepare for it.

For, fourthly, as death puts the righteous into a state of
endless happiness, which truth we very readily close with, so
does it send the wicked into a condition miserable beyond
expression, which we believe with some difficulty ; and yet we
are assured of both these truths by the same God of truth,
that if either hopes or fears will prevail upon us, we may not
want motives to work out our salvation.

Lastly ; let us seriously consider, that whether we believe,
or do not believe, these things, tJiat will not make them true
or false : the counsels of God must stand ; and if He has
declared that He Avill raise us up at the last day, and judge
every man according to his works done in the body; if He
has, of His infinite mercy, appointed a place and state of
happiness for the righteous, and a place of torment and
punishment for the wicked, why then this will be the portion
both of the one and the other, whether men believe, whether
they think so, or not.

As for such as know themselves to have no religion, no



458 THE RESURRECTION ; OR,

SERM. fear of God before their eyes, they know likewise that they
— ■ — are not worthy, that is, meet to be made partakers of the
inheritance of the saints in heaven; and without a timely
repentance they never can be happy. They know it, and
all the arguments in the world cannot give them a greater
assurance than their own consciences.

But then there are others, who, because they profess to
believe these things, are therefore under no apprehensions of
any danger, although they take no thought, no pains, to fit
themselves for the heavenly life. They love the world as
well as if they desired never to leave it ; they run into temp-
tations to sin; what they call repentance is no more than
asking God^s pardon, and, upon the first occasion, running
into the same sins again ; in short, they pray without con-
cern to be heard, without a sense of their wants, without
being convinced of their own misery, without knowing the
danger they are in ; and after all, they die in peace, and in
hopes of a joyful resurrection.

Why now, my christian brethren, if any of you be con-
scious to himself that this is his own case, let him know,
that none shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world,
but such who have had their conversation in heaven while
they were on earth ; who with an eye of faith have seen, and
were persuaded of, the glory which God hath prepared for
His saints, and make it the very chief business of their life
to become worthy, that is, meet for the kingdom of heaven.
For, as Jesus Christ died, so He was also raised for us,
2 Cor. 5. 15. " that we should not henceforth live unto ourselves, but
unto Him Who died and rose again for us."

Let us therefore, as many of us as are verily persuaded of
the truth of these things, let us be persuaded also to raise
our hearts and affections above the little concerns of this
world. Live in it we must, as long as God is pleased we
should, because it is the place appointed for our trial and
improvement ; but, after all, it is not the place where we are
to expect our happiness; nor where we should lay up our
treasure, lest, our hearts being there also, we never aspire
after that happiness which God hath prepared for them that
love Him.
Col. 3. 1—4. I shall conclude with the words of St. Paul : "If ye then



THE REWARD 0¥ HOLINESS. 459

be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above,
where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your
affections on things above, not on things on the earth ; that
when Christ Who is our life shall appear, then we may also
appear with Hira in glory.'' Which God grant, for the sake
of the same Jesus Christ.

To Whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all
honour and glory, now and for ever. Amen.



SERMON XLI.



THE DUTY OF IMPROVING THE TALENTS COMMITTED
TO OUR TRUST.



Luke xii. 48.
See Matt. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be

johf 9. 41 ; ^^u<^^ required.

16. 24 ;

Acts]7,30; These words of Christ were designed to make us all very
James 1. 5 ; serious and concerned, for the account which we must one
^' ^^' day give of the talents we have received, and for the oppor-
tunities He has afforded us of knowing and of doing our
duty.

"I believe that Jesus Christ shall come from heaven to
judge the quick and the dead, and to render to every man
according to his works done in the body." This is what
every christian professes to believe : but is it possible for any
christian, who leads a careless life, to say this, and not to be
extremely concerned for the judgment that is then like to
pass upon him, and for what must follow that sentence ? The
generality of christians must certainly lie under some sad
delusion, who live in a neglect of the duties of Christianity,
and die without fearing any danger.

If one seriously considers what this delusion is, it will ap-
pear to be this, — That most christians do hope that they have
not so much to answer for as really they have.

I have made choice of these words of our Saviour, to con-
vince you, that we have, every soul of us, more to answer for
than we are generally aware of; that we have, all of us, re-
ceived much, and much will be required of tis.



DUTY OF IMPROVING TALENTS COMMITTED TO OUR TRUST. 461

I know this will hai'dly be believed ; and one must take
some pains to convince christians that it is really true, and
that their salvation depends upon it.

I am not now speaking of those to whom God has given
excellent parts and understandings, great opportunities of
doing good, time to spare, and abilities to learn and to know
a great deal : nobody questions but such persons have a
great deal indeed to answer for. But that which I would
have you convinced of is this ; that such as are apt to think
themselves least accountable will have much to answer for,
even more than they generally think of.

Is it knowledge you want ? Do not deceive yourself; you
know things as hard to be understood as the things which
concern your salvation. Without religion no man must hope
to be saved ; every man, therefore, is capable of knowing as
much as God will expect from him, provided he be really
desirous to know his duty.

Is it time you want ? You will not say so, when you con-
sider that religion is the work of the heart, more than of the
body ; and that a man may be very religious, doing his duty,
pleasing God, at the same time that he is about his worldly
business.

Is it the want of a will you complain of? Be assured of it,
that you may have it for asking, if you are sensible of your
want, and beg of God to give you a will to be concerned for
your soul.

And if it be the weakness of your resolutions, and the cor-
ruption of your nature, that you are afraid and complain of,
remember, that the very moment you give yourself to God,
He has bound Himself to assist you by an all-sufficient
grace.

In short, every christian living knows enough to make him
very serious, and concerned for what may come hereafter :
every christian who is thus concerned for his soul, does or
may know what God requires of him in order to his salvation:
and every christian, who knows this, is bound, at the peril of
his soul, to look to himself, lest by his own negligence he be
miserable for ever.

Every man, even the most ignorant, knows that he must
die, and that in a short time. Every christian knows that



462 THE DUTY OF IMPROVING THE TALENTS

S E R M. this life is only a state of trial, and that as we behave our-
— ^ — '- — selves well or ill here, we shall be happy or miserable in
another life.

What our behaviour ought to be, in order to our being for
ever happy when we die, every christian does or may know,
if it be not plainly his own fault.

He knows, for example, let him be never so unlearned,
that a good and holy God will always be best pleased with
good and holy men, and good actions ; and that wicked men
will only be fit company for wicked spirits like themselves.

He cannot but know, that if God sees every thing that is
done under the sun, he cannot hope to hide any evil action
from God ; and this will hinder him from doing any ill thing
whatever, if he does not stifle his knowledge. And this
knowledge will make him strive to do what he believes will
please God, because he knows that God, Who sees him, will
one day reward his piety.

The most ignorant christian feels the corruption of his own
heart, and he knows that he cannot, of himself, mend his
own nature ; but then God has promised and will give the
Holy Spirit to them that ask Him ; the Spirit of wisdom and
understanding, the Spirit of counsel and ghostly strength,
the Spirit of knowledge, true godliness, and holy fear, — to
lead them in the knowledge and obedience of His word, that in
the end they may obtain everlasting life.

Every christian, knowing this, will be without excuse, who
does not most earnestly beg of God to give him this Holy
Spirit ; and who is not very careful not to grieve Him, and
drive Him away by any evil deeds.

Every man who knows (and who does not?) that he has
done a thousand things to ofl'end and provoke God, will be
glad to know, whether, and upon what terms, God will par-
don and restore him to His favour. And every christian
who is thus concerned will be desirous to know what he
must answer for.

Now, that we may be as particular as possible upon a sub-
ject of so great concern, and be better prepared to answer
our King and Judge at that day; I will set before you, in
one short view, what will most certainly be required of every
soul of us, even of the most ignorant and unlearned.



COMMITTED TO OUR TRUST. 463

It will, in the first place, be required of every christian,
that he has given entire credit to the word and will of God,
contained in the Holy Scriptures; because these Scriptures
have been confirmed and established by undoubted miracles,
and have been received in all the Christian world.

And because these Scriptures were written by the direction
of the Spirit of God, and cannot be understood or received
but by the assistance of that Spirit by which they were writ-
ten, it is our duty, and it will be required of us, that we have
prayed to God for a true understanding of the same.

The first and great design of these Scriptures being to
establish us in the true faith, " without which it is impossible
to please God," it will be required of us that we have received
the truths contained in them with the simplicity of children,
that is, with submission, without questioning the wisdom of
God in giving them. His authority, or His goodness, however
hard they appear to be to our reason or understanding.

Especially it will be required of us, that having plainly seen
the ivisdom, the power, the justice, and the goodness of God,
manifested in these Scriptures, we shall severely answer for
it, if we behave not ourselves accordingly : that is, if we do
not fear to offend this great and just God; if we do not live
as in His sight ; if we do not depend upon His word, His
truth, and promises, and fear His threatenings ,- if we do not
honour His holy name, and serve Him faithfully all our days ;
we shall be plainly without excuse, and shall dearly pay for it.

And then, forasmuch as these Holy Scriptures assure us,
that there is no salvation for any man living, (every one
having sinned, and come short of the glory of God,) unless
his peace be made with God by Jesus Christ, it will be re-
quired of every christian, that he lay hold of and close with
this mercy, as he hopes to escape the wrath of God ; that is,
that he endeavour (according to the capacity which God has
given him), that he endeavour to understand the manner, and
the conditions of our redemption by Jesus Christ. For ex-
ample : that the Son of God took our nature upon Him,
that He might, in our nature, suffer what we ought to suffer ;
" that God laid on Him the iniquities of us all •/' and that [Is. 53. 6.]
He hath obtained everlasting redemption for all them that
obey Him.



464 THE DUTY OF IMPROVING THE TALENTS

SERM. It will therefore be required of every soul of us, that we

— '- — endeavour to obey His laws, and follow His example ; that is,

to do what we believe Jesus Christ would have us to do, and
what we believe He Himself would have done, were He in
our place and circumstances. Particularly, it will be required
of us, that we set before our eyes His sufferings, His humility,
His patience, His charity. His submission to the will of God,
and endeavour to imitate them ; that we give entire credit to
all that God hath made known to us by His Son, and espe-
cially this important truth, — that we must all appear before
[John 5. 29; His judgmeut-scat ; by Whose righteous sentence, "they that
4G.] have done good shall go into everlasting life, and they that

have done evil," and have not repented them of the evil they
have done, " shall go into everlasting misery." It will, I say,
be required, that we live like people who profess to believe all
this, and that we be careful of our thoughts, tvords, and actions,
which must then be judged.

And forasmuch as in baptism we are dedicated to the Holy
Ghost, that He may sanctify our nature, enlighten our un-
derstandings, and give us a power to do what God has com-
manded us ; it will be required of us, that we have not grieved
that Holy Spirit, nor driven Him from us by our evil deeds,
or by continuing in any known sin.
[Acts 2. And this Holy Spirit having made known to us " that God

added to His Church daily," that is, from time to time, "such
as should be saved," it will be required of every man, as he
hopes to be saved, that, by a righteous baptism, he be a
member of Christ^s Holy Catholic Church, in order to be a
partaker of all its blessed privileges.

And it being to the governors and pastors of this Church
Matt. 28. that Jesus Christ has made this sure promise, " Lo ! I am
with you always, even unto the end of the world ;" that is, to
direct them, and bless those whom they bless in His name ;
it will be strictly required of every member of this society
that he attend to the word preached by them ; highly value
their prayers and blessing, and submit to the authority of
Jesus Christ in His ministers.

Every christian who professes to believe the communion
OF SAINTS, it will be required of him, that he has had a con-
cern, a fellow-feeling, for all christians ; such as there should



COMMITTED TO OUR TRUST. 465

be amongst the members of the same body; that he has
communicated his talents, whether of icisdom, or riches, or
power, to others, in order to make the whole body of Christ
as happy as may be.

And, forasmuch as Jesus Christ has commanded, " that re- [Luke 24.
pentance and remission of sins should be preached in His ''-'
name ;" that is, repentance on man^s part, and remission of
sins on the part of God ; every christian will sadly suffer for
it, if this goodness of God has not led him to repentance,
has not put him upon begging of God the grace of repent-
ance, even that repentance to which God has promised mercy
and pardon.

There is not a christian so ignorant, who does not believe
and confess this truth, " That the hour is coming, in the John 5. 28,
which all that are in the graves shall come forth; they that
have done good, unto the resurrection of life ; and they that
have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." And
will any christian flatter himself, that this hour will not make
a prodigious diff'erence betwixt good and bad livers ?

Is there a christian so ignorant or unlearned as not to
know, that now is the time in which we are to choose where,



Online LibraryThomas WilsonThe works of the right reverend father in God, Thomas Wilson, D.D., Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man (Volume 2) → online text (page 41 of 49)