THE IMPORTANCE OF MAN.
Psalm viii. 3, 4.—" When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him ? and the son of man, that thou visitest him ?"
This language is such as would have been prompted at any period of the world by a contemplation of the starry heavens. Even to the naked eye, they are so vast and grand that man dwindles into insignificance in comparison with them, and it seems wonderful that God should stoop from the contemplation of works so sublime to notice the affairs of a creature like man.
The language of the Bible is adapted by the Spirit of inspiration to express the emotions of piety in all ages ; and though in the time of the psalmist the language of the text was fitted to express the feelings of deep devotion, yet two circumstances have contributed to give it in our times increased force and significance. One is, the greatly enlarged views which have been obtained of those " heavens" contemplated by the psalmist, by the discoveries of modern astronomy. The other is, the almost equal enlargement of conception of what God has done for man, and of the importance attached to him in his estimation, in the disclosures of the plan of redemption. These have not indeed entirely kept pace with each other, but together they give a greatly increased significance to the language of my text. With all the disclosures of modern astronomy before us, and in full view of what God has done for man in the work of redemption, one may well say, " When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him ?"
There are two somewhat opposite methods of estimating man, both of them having much that is erroneous. One is, so to speak of his godlike nature, his achievements in council, in arts, and in science, his susceptibilities for progress, and the progress which he has actually made, as to conceal the degradation of his nature, and to fill him with pride and self-elation. This has been much the manner of poets and philosophers; of the writers
of fiction, and of those systems of religion in which it is forgotten or denied that the race is in ruins. The other is, so to dwell on the circumstances of his wretchedness and sinfulness, on his foibles and crimes, and on the brevity of his life, and his comparative insignificance among the sublime works of God, as to make us feel that the race is wholly beneath the Divine notice. This is the view of the disappointed, of the sour, of the morose, of the haters of the species ; and it is as far from the truth as the former.
Is there any way in which what is true in these views may be united ? . Is there anything fitted to give us elevated conceptions of the dignity of man, and yet to clothe us with humility ; anything that makes man a proper object of special Divine notice, and yet anything that makes us wonder that he has attracted so much attention ? In answering these questions, I may direct your attention to two points:—
I. In what way God has magnified man, or shown that ho regards him as of special importance ; and,
II. Why he has done it.
I. In what way has God magnified man, or how has he shown a special interest in him f My purpose, under this head, demands only a very brief statement—■my main design being to show why man has attracted so much attention in the uerse, as it is said in the Scriptures that he has.
What God has done for other portions of the uerse we have only slight means of knowing; and it is not important for us to understand. Probably if we were admitted to a knowledge of what he has done for intelligent beings in other worlds, wo should find proofs of his care and attention not less striking than those which are exhibited in our own. 13ut, for obvious reasons, revelation is silent in regard to them.
The peculiar interest which has been shown■ in man—the interest apart from that which he has shown in creation and providence towards all intelligent creatures—according to the sacred Scriptures, consists in the following things:—
(1.) A plan of redemption has been formed for him. This was laid far back in eternity, and was contemplated from far distant ages. This plan, according to the saered Scriptures, was one of special interest to the Divine Mind, and in accomplishing it, God was willing to institute a train of measures elsewhere unknown, and submit to sacrifices which to us would have been deemed impossible. According to that plan, he designed to make on the earth one of the most sublime manifestations of his glory, and to perform a work here that should •
interest in a peculiar manner the inhabitants of all other worlds, " to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known, by the church, the manifold wisdom of God," Ephes. iii. 10.
(2.) For man, in the execution of that purpose, he sent his Son to become incarnate, and to die. Such was the interest which he felt in our race; so much has he magnified man, that a work has been performed which requires the highest measure of our faith to believe it true now that it has been done, and which we should have deemed incredible or impossible, could it have been submitted beforehand to our sense of probability. It resulted in the formation of a perfect union between the LUvine and human nature in the person of the Son of God, and in his sacrifice as an offering for the sin of the world on a cross. This event stands by itself. There is no reason to suppose that a transaction of this nature has occurred in any other part of the uerse. The more we contemplate it, the more we are amazed; and the more impressively does the question come home to us, " What is man," that such a plan should be formed for his redemption ? It overpowers us. The mind sinks under the burden of the great conception that there should have been an incarnation of the Deity; that that incarnate Being should submit to be reviled and treated with scorn ; and that he should, by his own sufferings and death, make expiation for human guilt. What is there in man that should lead such a being down to earth to suffer, to bleed, to die ? Even in all our vain glorying; in all that has been said of the godlike dignity of the human powers ; in all the dreams of philosophy and poetry about what man is, or is to be, what is there that would seem to make it proper that God should be thus "manifest in the flesh?" I wonder not that men pause with amazement, and hesitate before they admit the great idea to be true; nor that they feel tasked, and burdened, and overpowered by the claim which Christianity makes on their faith in the announcement of this truth.
(3.) For man the Spirit of God is sent down to the earth. He comes to enlighten, to arouse, to awaken, to renew, to sanctify. Of so much importance is man, that this Great Agent begins a special work in the heart of each one that is to be saved, and performs the distinct and definite achievement of changing the current of feeling, and the principles of the soul. He is the chief and the crown of all those agencies and influences intended to bring man back to God, and win him to heaven. A train of means has been employed designed to arrest his attention; to convict him of sin; to convert his soul; to open his eyes on the fields of heavenly glory; to send the current of spiritual life through the heart dead in transgression; to awaken the consciousness of an immortal nature in■ the lost soul; to make of the alien a friend—of the apostate an heir of heaven. As if there were some special importance in recovering man ; as if his restoration would be worth all which it would cost in the institution of the most numerous and expensive measures, a train of operations has been commenced, all expressive of the intensest interest in the Divine Mind, for the accomplishment of this result. Why is this? Why does He who made and who rules these vast heavens feel so deep an interest in the recovery of a creature like man ?
(4.) For man, we are told, there is intense interest felt among the inhabitants of heaven. There is joy among the angels over one sinner that rcpenteth. They, we are told, desire to look into the things connected with redemption ; and the entire sacred history leads us to believe that celestial beings have been ready at all times to wing their way to the earth to watch the progress made in redemption; to relieve the wretched, and to comfort the dying ; and that they hail with fresh rapture the coming of each ransomed spirit to the skies. Though man is insignificant in himself, yet there is somehow such an importance attached to him that angelic beings are willing for a season to vacate their happy seats if they can be helpers of his salvation.
(5.) God manifestly attaches great importance to each individual of the species. No matter how ignorant, or poor, or downtrodden he may be, the Divine dealings have an individuality in relation to him as if he were the only dweller upon earth. God never overlooks him. He sends his messengers of mercy to him—his prophets, apostles, and ministers of religion ; he repeats the message when rejected, and urges it upon his attention with all the arguments which can be adduced—as though it were a matter of immense moment that he should repent, believe, and be saved. When we look upon enfeebled age, or upon a child; when we contemplate the downtrodden and ignorant tribes that dwell upon the earth—many of them but little above the brutes ; when we see how frail and helpless man is at the best, and how soon he will vanish away, and his name be forgotten; and then, when we look up at these heavens in the light of modern astronomy, we can hardly help asking, as the psalmist did, " What is man, that thou art mindful of him?" Why does God treat him as if he were of so much consequence ? Of what importance can it be to God where his location shall be ? Why does he follow him so constantly, and why does he so earnestly press upon him compliance with the terms of his favour? In one word, why is this vast array of plan and motive, and eternal decree, and celestial influences, and heavenly interest, and solemn mandate, and fearful threatening, brought to bear on a frail, erring, dying, evanescent creature like man ?
II. These questions it is my design, in the second place, to answer. I shall suggest four considerations in answer to the inquiry. They will show the importance of man, but they will be such as will be adapted to humble us. They will be fitted to avoid the self-glorifying of the philosopher—showing that the importance of man arises, in the main, from causes which should have any effect rather than to inflate us with pride ; and they will be such as to avoid the other extreme of regarding man as so degraded and so unworthy of notice, as to leave on the mind, in the contemplation of him, the feeling of contempt or misanthropy.
(1.) I observe, first, that the attention which God bestows on man is in strict accordance with his uersal providential care. In his empire, nothing is overlooked ; nothing is forgotten. The Redeemer has told us that not a sparrow falls to the ground without his notice, and that even the hairs of the head are all numbered. Everything is treated as if it were of consequence; everything shares in the superintendence of the Most High. There is not an insect or a blade of grass whose structure does not appear as perfect as though the whole of the Divine wisdom had been exhausted to form it; there is not a rose that is not made with as nice a degree of attention and skill as though God had nothing else to do; there is not an emerald or an amethyst that does not seem to have combined all there is in infinite wisdom in its formation. The leaf; the flower; the particle of blood ; the dewdrop ; the forming crystal of the snow—all, taken singly, appear to be objects of special Divine attention, as if each were the solitary production of the infinitely wise and powerful God. We know not, we cannot conceive how this is. We become soon distracted with the very few objects that pass under our notice. We narrow down those that demand our attention; and from necessity pass over the infinitude of objects that are around us. We cannot conceive how it is that any one Being can direct his attention to countless millions of things at the same time:—at the same instant holding worlds and systems in their place; restraining the raging floods of the deep ; directing the lightning; controlling armies engaged in the conflict of battle; and with gentle hand in the summer morning opening the rosebud, and at silent evening letting down the dewdrop on the spire of grass. Yet so it is; and such is God. And when we speak of the importance of man as evinced by the Divine care and attention, you are to remember the care that is bestowed on the poor worm on which you tread, as well as yourself; the care bestowed on the shaking leaf, as well as on the rolling world.
(2.) The second reason to which I refer is, that man, in his immortal nature, is a being who has all the importance which has ever been attributed to him. He has an intrinsic worth that renders proper all the care that God has shown for him; all the interest manifested for him in the eternal councils of heaven; all the value implied in the incarnation and atonement of the Redeemer for his salvation. Great as has been the sacrifice made for him on the cross; inconceivable as were the sufferings of the Son of God in his behalf, his salvation is worth all which it has cost, and will be an adequate and ample return to the Redeemer for all his pangs, and toils, and blood: for " he shall see of the fruit of his wearisome toil, and shall be satisfied," Isa. liii. 11.* The Redeemer estimated man as of unspeakable value. He regarded his recovery as worth all which he would endure in becoming incarnate, and dying on the cross. The glory which the ransomed sinner would have in heaven, and the honour thence resulting to the Saviour, he deemed of sufficient worth to induce him to leave the heavens and to die. It is for the honour of Christ that we should feel and know that redemption is worth all which it has cost; and that the scheme of recovery is one that is based on a just view of the relative importance of things. The price, indeed, was infinite. Silver, gold, diamonds, pearls, all the treasures of kings, do not furnish us with the means of estimating its value. The blood of patriots, of prophets, of martyrs, of confessors, scarcely furnishes us with the means of comparison by which to measure the worth of the blood shed by the Redeemer. Still we hold that the Redeemer sought a prize in the redemption of man worth all which it cost him, and which will "satisfy" him for all his humiliation and toils.
Do you ask what was that prize ? I reply, It was the immortal soul. Its value is estimated by the fact that man, so degraded, no sinful, so blind, so lost to his own interests, is Immortal. Men see not this, nor feel it, for they icill not be convinced that they are immortal, or that the soul is to have an infinite duration beyond the grave. Were you to be thrown into a dungeon
* Lowth's translation.
on earth, to live and linger on for ever in darkness, you would realize something of what constitutes immortality. If in that gloomy dungeon, nor father, nor mother, nor sister were to see you more ; if the light of heaven were to greet you no more; if sleep were to visit your eyes no more ; if harsh sounds and groans were to grate for ever and ever on your ears; if neither cord, nor pistol, nor assassin's hand, nor murderous phial could close your conscious being, you might form some idea of what it is to live for ever and ever.
To be immortal! The very moment you attach the idea of immortality to a thing, no matter how insignificant it may be otherwise, that moment you invest it with unspeakable importance. Nothing can be mean and unworthy of notice which is to exist for ever. An eternal rock, an eternal tree, plant, river, would impress our minds with the idea of vast sublimity, and make us feel that we were contemplating an object of unspeakable moment. Affix, then, to it the idea of eternal consciousness, though of the lowest order, and the mind is overwhelmed. The little humming-bird that in a May morning poises itself over the opening honeysuckle in your garden, and which is fixed a moment and then is gone, is lovely to the eye, but we do not attach to it the idea of great importance in the scale of being. But attach to that now short-lived beautiful visitant of the garden the word Immortality—and you invest it at once with an unspeakable dignity. Let it be confined for ever in a cage— or let it start off on rapid wing never to tire or faint beyond the orbit of Neptune, or where the comet flies, or where Sirius is fixed in the heavens, to continue its flight when the heavens shall vanish away, and though with most diminutive consciousness of being, you make it an object of the deepest interest. The little, lonely, fluttering, eternal wanderer! The beautiful little bird on an undying wing, among the stars! Who can track its way? What shall we think of its solitariness and eternal homelessness ?—What, then, shall we think of an immortal soul ? A soul to endure for ever! A soul to which is attached all that is meant by the word Eternity ! A soul capable of immortal happiness or pain!—My careless, thoughtless reader, that soul, immortal, and eternal, is yours. You feel it not. I was about to say you know it not. But Christ knew it, and felt it; and hence he came and died. The stamp, the seal of eternity is on you—and you must live for ever. And is your redemption not worth his death—not worth more than all these material suns and stars ? Christ felt this when he said, " What shall it profit a man, though he gain the whole world, and lose his
own soul?" And when we think of its immortality, and attempt to track its wondrous way on its eternal journey, we find an answer to that which so much perplexed the psalmist:—" When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him ?"
(3.) Man is of peculiar importance as a guilty being. He has sinned ; and has thus exalted himself into a melancholy notoriety such as he might never otherwise have had. A transgressor of law, no matter where, becomes at once a being of importance. A thousand questions are at once asked in reference to him which it would not have occurred to have asked if he had not sinned, and which would have been impertinent and improper if he had remained upright. A man who commits murder, becomes at once one who attracts attention. Before he did this, he may have been unknown ; he may have been a stranger ; he may have been a down-trodden slave ; but the moment he imbrues his hands in the blood of his fellow, that moment the eyes of the community are turned towards him with the deepest interest. His name is gazetted and blazoned abroad; his person is described ; his former course of life becomes a subject of interesting history; his feelings, views, destiny, all become a matter of consequence. A mark on his person is exalted into a thing of importance, and his death will attract the attention of thousands. His melancholy conspicuity he owes to his guilt; and but for that, he might have lived and died unknown. This would be more especially true, if the crime were one committed against a prince, a nobleman, a benefactor of his species, or the saviour of his country. To what a degree of importance would the lowest man in our country have exalted himself if he had assassinated La Fayette or Washington!—A vessel may cross and recross oceans, and attract almost no attention. Her coming and going shall be recorded only among the numbers that are alike undistinguished. But let it be rumoured that she was fitted out with kes, and dirks, and pistols, and guns, and that she has hoisted a false flag, and all at once she rises into conspicuity. The world begins to feel an interest in her as she roams on the ocean, and in all that pertains to her. Everything relating to her course, her colour, her form, her complement of men, becomes a matter of the deepest concern, and a nation feels that her capture is worthy of its attention. Her importance arises from the criminal intention, and the purpose to make war on the peaceful commerce of the world.—A child in a family that has done wrong at once attracts peculiar attention, and many a question is asked in the little community of which he is a member. Every eye is turned toward him. What will be the consequence of his offence ? is the immediate inquiry. Will he be punished ? Will his father forgive ? A train of deeply interesting emotions also at once passes through the bosom of the distressed and afflicted parent. His attention is diverted from his other children to the offender. Can he safely pardon him ? If not, what is the kind and measure of punishment which will be necessary ? How can he so dispose of the painful occurrence as to secure the observance of his laws hereafter, and to turn the affair to good account in the government of his other children ? The guilt of the offender has given him temporary and painful consequence in that circle, and has attracted towards him a degree of attention which but for that would never have been excited.
Such is man—one of the apostate children of the great family of God. Not having any peculiar claims to the Divine notice and attention from his original dignity and importance ; not being of rank superior to other intelligences, he has raised himself into notice among immortal beings, as Richard III., and Cesar Borgia, and the Duke of Alva did among mortals, by guilt more than by talent; by eminence in crime, more than by exalted rank. He has, by his apostasy, given occasion to many a question of deep interest in regard to him which could never have been asked had he not revolted, and is raised to this bad eminence by his rebellion against the Most High. And though man is but the creature of a day, and crushed before the moth, yet when we look upon the numbers of the guilty—upon the aggravated nature of their crimes—the apostasy of a world as such—one entire province of the mighty empire,—we are not to wonder that they have attracted attention in heaven, and that great questions are pending there about the disposition which shall be made of the rebel race.—The importance of man now arises in no small degree from the fact that he is a sinner. We do not excite notice in heaven by our talent or learning; by our skill or accomplishments; by our beauty or strength. We can never make our names known there by our eloquence, our valour, our wealth. We are known as guilty men; as wanderers; as criminals; as having foolishly and wickedly gone away from God, and as being in rebellion against the Most High. It is the eminence of guilt, the fame of depravity, the notoriety of rebellion that distinguishes us in other worlds; and though we have become of so much importance as to attract attention there, yet the fact is one fitted not to fill us with pride, but to sink us low in the dnst. It is true that the remark now made might be made of rebel angels, and would be correct in regard to them, and that this would SEEM to be a reason as strong in their case why they should be objects of special Divine notice as in ours—and so they may be in their own way, or in some method that shall as clearly show that the Divine attention is directed to them as if a plan of redemption had been provided for them: but there may have been reasons unknown to us, why the Divine notice of them as guilty was not manifested in the same way as towards us—that is, why they should not be redeemed.
(4.) Man is of importance as a sufferer; as actually now a sufferer; and as being exposed to deep and prolonged sorrows in the future world. A sufferer is always a being of importancs, no matter what may be the cause of his woes. That interest is in proportion to the tenderness of the ties which bind him to others, or to the benevolence of those by whom he is surrounded. Who is the object of deepest interest in the family ? Who is the one around whom most anxieties cluster ? Look on that little afflicted daughter. All are ready to do anything for her; to carry her, to fan her, to bathe her temples, to watch with her during the long night. The reason is, simply, that she is a sufferer. She has now an importance, and attracts a degree of attention, which she could never have done had she lived in the enjoyment of health. Her pains, her sighs, her fading cheek, her sunken eye, exalt her into importance; and when she dies, you regard her as the most lovely of your children, and feel for the moment that you have laid your pride and your hopes in the grave.
It matters little—though I admit it does something—what is the cause of suffering, whether it be misfortune or guilt. The son that has been dissipated, and that lies on a bed of death as the result of his folly, is not cut off from our sympathy by his crimes. And especially if he has been led into temptation by others ; if by their arts he has been seduced from virtue, our interest is excited in his behalf, perhaps not less than if he were innocent. Rare is it, if it ever happens, that a mother's heart is cold and repellant towards a suffering daughter, though she has been frail, and led away by a seducer.
If suffering is long, or is likely to be long, the importance of the sufferer is proportionally increased. Attach the idea of eternal suffering to anything, and you at once exalt it into unspeakable magnitude. It matters not how insignificant the sufferer may be, the idea of its suffering for ever gives it a magnitude which words can never express. Allow me to advert to my former simple illustration—the case of the little beautiful humming-bird. Suppose it—small as it is—transfixed with a tiny dart, and yet deathless; suppose the little arrow to pierce its heart, and the death struggle to continue on till the heavens shall waste away and the earth be no more, and then that it be removed to a place where it would struggle on with the quivering dart fixed there for ever—what would you not do to rescue such a sufferer ? Tell me, ye rich and benevolent men, would you not give the last cent of your property to extract that tiny dart, and make that little beautiful being happy ? What then is man, immortal man, if he is destined to eternal suffering unless redeemed ? Why should we wonder that such a being becomes an object of interest in heaven; why that the angels regard him with emotion; why that the Redeemer came to die for him; why that God looks upon him with intensest feeling ? No words can estimate the importance of man exposed to infinite suffering in the future world; and nothing but the fact that he is a sufferer here, and that he is in danger of eternal suffering in the world to come, is necessary to solve the question in the text:—"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained ; what is man, that thou art mindful of him ?" How could a benevolent God but be mindful of one who might suffer for ever ?
In view of our subject, I may suggest the following remarks:— 1. We may see the propriety and fitness of the plan of salvation by the incarnation and death of the Son of God. It was indeed amazing. It seems almost to surpass the limits of possibility that it should have occurred. Yet when we think of what man is ; of his own immortal nature ; of his magnitude of guilt ; of the severity and duration of suffering due to him as a sinner; and of the numbers of the guilty and the dying, it is impossible to over-estimate his importance among the creatures of God. All about our subject is great. God is great; and the human soul is great. The plans of God are great; and the interests of man are great. The incarnation of the Son of God was great; and the object for which it took place was great. His sufferings and his agony for sin were great; and the sorrows of hell from which he came to redeem us were great. There is a fitness between the one and the other; and great as were the pangs of Jesus Christ, I see in the whole plan that beautiful harmony which I delight to trace in all the ways and works of God. " The redemption of the soul is precious." It is worth all which it has cost. The gain to the uerse is to be an ample compensation for all those sufferings; and when the Redeemer shall see all the purchased of his Mood around his throne, he will not feel that in the garden of Gethseinane, or on Calvary, he endured one pang too much.
2. Our subject should teach us humility. Insignificant as creatures when compared with angelic beings, and infinitely so when compared with the great God, we have exalted ourselves * into melancholy conspicuity by our guilt, and by our exposure to suffering as the result of our guilt. Distinguished though we are, and though we attract notice and attention from the heavenly hosts, yet the effect on us should be anything but to make us proud. Our crimes magnify us ; but it is not a matter of self-exaltation when guilt attracts attention, and when the principal claim to notice is criminality. Though the gospel, therefore, reveals the interest which is felt in us by distant beings, it does it in such a way as not to fill us with pride; it does it so that the cardinal virtue in our bosoms which it produces is humility. And when you are in danger of being proud that God and Christ and holy angels feel a deep interest in you, and that for you an eternal plan has been formed, and for you the Son of God has become incarnate, remember that it was your crimes that attracted this attention, and that your peril on account of sin moved heaven to notice you. Go and see the crowd gather towards the cell of the pirate, or the throng that accompanies the man on the way to the block, and forget your pride.
3. If so much interest is manifested for man ; if heaven is moved with compassion on his behalf; if angels look down with deep anxiety, solicitous to aid and save him, we cannot but be struck with the indifference of man himself to these great truths. Of all beings he is usually most unconcerned in the great events that contemplate his salvation, or that hasten his ruin. His eye is not attracted by the glories of the incarnation ; nor does he feel alarmed at the preparations for his final woe. Much I have meditated on this; and much I have wondered at it, and still wonder. I have sought out arguments and words to rouse those whom I am called to address; but usually in vain. I can scarcely get the ear, or the eye—much less the heart—to contemplate the amazing interest felt in heaven based on man's guilt; those wonders of compassion in the cross that was reared that man might be saved. I see a parallel to it sometimes on earth—but where my philosophy equally fails me—in the guilty wretch about to die for his crimes, himself the most thoughtless of the throng, and with the utmost coolness walking up to the instrument of death, while every other heart shudders. Why it is, I know not, I cannot explain it. But our subject makes yet another appeal to you. There is interest felt for you in heaven—in God's bosom—in the Redeemer's heart. There was interest felt for you in the eternal plan which contemplated redemption. There was interest felt for you on the plains of Bethlehem, when the angelic host sang " Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." There was interest felt for you in the garden of Gethsemane, and on the cross. There is interest felt for you still. Your God desires your salvation. Your Redeemer desires it. Your pious wife desires it. Your Christian daughter desires it. Your child that is a Christian desires it. All feel your danger but yourself. All pray for your salvation but yourself. All eyes but your own weep when they survey your eternal doom.
(4.) Finally, our subject shows us that the sinner cannot escape the notice of God. His sins have given him a bad eminence, and he will not be forgotten. " There is no darkness nor shadow of death where the workers of iniquity can hide themselves." He that has sought the redemption of the guilty by giving his Son to die, will not suffer him to escape if he neglects it. Sin makes the rebel of too much importance in a government like that of God ; and the offender cannot escape. Human penalty you may escape. You may have never deserved it. But the penalty of the Divine law cannot be evaded; nor can the sinner plead his own insignificance when he stands before his Maker. Insignificant a man may have been till he became a murderer—but not then, nor ever onwards. Insignificant you may be as a creature, but never henceforward as a sinner.
I know, my hearer, that you and I shall die and moulder back to dust. I know that your name and mine will soon be forgotten among men. The traces of our existence on earth will be like the marks in the sand on the sea-shore which the next wave washes away. Yet we shall not be altogether forgotten. One Eye will be upon us ; and we cannot escape it. There is One who will remember us, and who will never forget us. Dying— deathless man! What is to be your doom beyond the grave? Oh, think one moment, I beseech you, what it will be to live for ever; to suffer for ever; to be driven away for ever from God, and from heaven!—And then think what it would be to live for ever in heaven—for ever, for ever, oh, for ever, amid the songs of redeeming love—to have to all eternity the importance attached to you of being among the redeemed, and of being admitted nearer the throne than you might have been had you never fallen. Then, when you shall see these heavens rolled together as a scroll, and the stars fall from their places, and the light of this sun fade away; then, when you see a bright and glorious eternity before you, you will understand in its fulness the subject which so much perplexed the psalmist, why such importance was attached to man. Redeemed in those heavens, and for ever blessed, what will be the fading and dying splendours of all those material worlds compared with the bliss of your own ransomed soul ?