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Of all the questions that can possibly interest the mind, none have such awful weight as those which relate to eternity. What is eternity? Whose is eternity? What will eternity be to me? Let not these solemn inquiries be unheeded.
What is eternity? Strictly; duration that has no beginning and no end. This is God's eternity. He was before men or angels existed, when he was the only Being in existence : “ Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.- A thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night," Psa. xc. 2—4. .
As to man, eternity expresses a duration that has a beginning, but that never will end.
Time has an end; eternity has none. Time is growing shorter every hour. At length there will be a last day. Days, years, and ages will roll on no more ; and the last moment of time will finish. But when this world shall long have passed away, no voice in heaven will mournfully exclaim, "Eternity is
ending !" no voice in hell will gladly shout, “ Eternity is finished !
Eternity is a duration which nothing can shorten. Heap in imagination ten thousand ages together, multiply their number ten thousand thousand times; and when all are past, is eternity shortened? Oh no—it is eternity still; as lasting, as joyful or dreadful, as ever.
Employ whatever efforts you can to impress upon your mind some notion of eternity, yet none can reach the awful reality.
Think of centuries as numerous as the hours since time began. Will these represent eternity ? Ah no! eternity is longer. Count ages in number as the moments of those centuries : eternity is longer. Add to the vast amount other years as numerous as the drops of morning dew : still eternity is longer. Think of as many ages more as there are grains of dust to form the world : eternity is longer. Tell all the drops of rain and flakes of snow that have fallen from the creation to this day: eternity is longer. Add to all these as many centuries more as there are drops to fill the ocean, or sands to form its bed : eternity is longer. At the end begin again, and multiply the mighty numbers ten thousand times over: oh, awful thought! eternity is longer! Not only does it exceed all those ages which none but God can comprehend; but all these are less in comparison to eternity than an atom to the world, a drop to the ocean, or the twinkling of an eye to all these years.
Whose is this eternity? It is God's; and now it is yours. Oh! joyful or terrific thought, indeed it is yours! To God, a thousand years are as one day, and one day as a thousand years; both are so insignificant that one hardly differs from the other. The same assertion will apply to your future existence.
Whose is eternity? All are destined to it: man possesses an immortal spirit, and to the soul death is but a passing from this world to another, from time into eternity. .
Many are already living in eternity. There live Adam, and Noah, and the long-lived Patriarchs, who sought a better country. The inhabitants of the old world, who perished in the deluge, and those of Sodom and Gomorrah, are in eternity, wretched spirits in prison. In eternity the pious of many departed ages live and rejoice. Enoch, who went to heaven almost five thousand years ago, has ever since been living in eternity. There, too, are the triflers of past ages; the rich, the great, the noble; in their day, men of renown; the pleasure-taking, the worldly of every class. The world has long forgotten them, but they are living in eternity. How different are their thoughts about time and eternity, about this world and another, from
Eternity is the portion of all the living. All you see who are so vain, so worldly, so intent on earthly trifles, as well as all the pious, are hastening to eternity. The buildings on which we gaze will crumble into ruin, the world itself on which we dwell will perish, “the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up, and the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved," 2 Pet. iii. 10-12; but we who dwell on this earth shall live for ever. Eternity is mine. I look forward to a not distant hour, when the hand that is now writing shall cease to move, and all the scenes of time shall vanish ; but beyond them is eternity. And you who now read-eternity is yours. You may look forward and imagine yourself leaving this world, and then the sentence will be fulfilled, " Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return;" but you will then live in eternity.
Still there is another solemn question for every one : “ What will eternity be to me? Here the answer turns on what I am, whether a child of God, or a follower of the world ; and according to my state will be my future lot a lot without change, for ever. Eternity to the sons of men will not be like the present life, a variable and chequered scene; but either all brightness or all darkness, all joy or all woe, all holiness or all sin, all the life that fears no death, or all the death that never dies. , ,
To the impenitent and unconverted, eternity will be one long dark night of unmixed woe. Man is so sinful, that unless renewed by the Holy Spirit, and delivered from sin by the death and righteousness of the Saviour, through faith in him, he cannot enter heaven. The Lord Jesus said, “ Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God," John iii. 5. • He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life ; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him," John iii. 36. Most fearful is that wrath! The compassionate Saviour represents the future ruin of the impenitent as dreadful beyond all conception. It is outer darkness, unquenchable fire-a furnace of fire. In hell, “ their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched," Mark ix. 44; and when the wretched victims of sin lift up their eyes, being in torments, tormented in that flame, Luke xvi. 23-26, a great gulf that none can ever pass divides them from hope and happiness.
· In the case of the impenitent, their wretchedness will be aggravated by the consciousness of the loss incurred. Hopes, privileges, friendships, comforts, pleasures; all have ended, all are lost! The character borne will increase the wretchedness of every lost soul: “ He which is filthy, let him be filthy still," Rev. xxii. 11. Every evil passion and wicked disposition will be matured to dreadful perfection. Hatred to God and enmity to him will reign as they reign in Satan now. Think of the wicked, when displaying in malice, revenge, hatred, and cruelty, most of Satan's infernal image. How dreadful would it be to spend an hour in such society! but what will it be to abide in it to all eternity, ever suffering, yet never hoping for an end to misery? A speedy end comes to all the pleasures of impenitent sinners in this world,-a last delight, a last laugh; but in eternity no end to their sorrows; no last pang, no last sigh, no last wail of woe, no last shriek of despair.
But the subject furnishes a very opposite view. What is eternity to the righteous ; to those who are justified and accepted through the blood and righteousness of Christ? One long and ceaseless day of brightness without a cloud, of joy without a pain, of triumph without a fear, of holiness without a blemish. Jesus said, “In my Father's house are many mansions.- I go to prepare a place for you.-I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, ye may be also,” John xiv. 2, 3. 66 The righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father,” Matt. xiii. 43. “God himself shall be with them, and be their God: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain," Rev. xxi. 3, 4. Joy will flow from a thousand springs; joy from boundless good possessed. Joy will flow from the character borne of perfect holiness and loveliness and all for ever! Joy from the happy company with which they mingle, Rev. vii. 9–12; Heb. xii. 22; and all will be perfected by the presence of their God and Saviour: “In thy presence is fulness of joy, at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore,” Psa. xvi. 11. For evermore! Delightful thought !-all for ever! Time brought an end to their sorrows; eternity brings none to their joys. There was a last sigh, a last groan, a last pang, a last tear; but there will be no last rapture, no last song of praise.
There is but one way to secure this eternal salvation. Acceptance in Christ, and pardon through his blood, secures safety to the soul; and none are safe but those who listen to his invitation, Matt. xi. 27-29, and whose all is committed to his care. Flee to him, believe in him, trust and love him, and be blessed to eternity.
ARE YOU FIT TO DIE ? A FOREIGN nobleman lay on his deathbed. He had lived in luxury and affluence. All that this world could give had been lavishly enjoyed. He had built mansions and laid out gardens. All about him was on a scale of the most costly magnificence; and he was very loth to die. His priest reminded him of the good deeds he had done, consisting mainly of bequests and gifts to such a church, and such a convent; he had given of his abundance; and the priest concluded by saying, “But you will soon be in a much happier and more splendid place.” The dying man replied, looking round his beautiful chamber, "I could be happy enough here-I do not want to go to a better, a more beautiful place than this."
A poor man was about to die. He had known want and poverty in their most afflicting forms. He was told that all his troubles would soon be over. The wretched sufferer replied, " But I do not want to die. Please God I might have my health, I should like to begin the world again, and see if I could not do better."
Thus among both high and low, rich and poor, many are loth to go; and when death stares them in the face, they cry out, " We do not want to die."