*Pastor’s Note: I was looking through my Bible software on the subject of our “Redemption Draws Near” and I became intrigued with the subject by this past great Scottish preacher and thought it would be a great addition and one my readers might enjoy and be blessed by. Now think of this; he died in 1800 and yet he was able to preach on a subject that is alive to us today! Again, it is longer than my usual posting for these great Preachers, but I have broken the article into four parts. Again, God bless you for your patience, but be blessed! – Pastor Roland
Hugh Blair (April 7, 1718 – December 27, 1800) was a Scottish minister of religion, author and rhetorician, considered one of the first great theorists of written discourse. He was part of prestigious Fellowship of the Royal Society at Edinburgh (FRSE). Blair was born in Edinburgh into an educated Presbyterian family. His father was John Blair, an Edinburgh merchant. He was great great-grandson of Rev. Robert Blair of St Andrews, Scotland.
As a minister of the Church of Scotland, and occupant of the Chair of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres at the University of Edinburgh, Blair’s teachings had a great impact in both the spiritual and the secular realms. Best known for Sermons, a five volume endorsement of practical Christian morality, and Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, a prescriptive guide on composition, Blair was a valuable part of the Scottish Enlightenment.
On the Dissolution of the World
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” – 2 Peter 3:10
Here then, let us behold what is the true honour and excellence of man. It consists not in his body; which, beautiful or vigorous as it may now seem, is no other than a fabric of dust, quickly to return to dust again. It is not derived from any connection he can form with earthly things; which, as we have seen; are all doomed to perish. It consists in that thinking part, which is susceptible of intellectual improvement and moral worth; which was formed after the image of God; which is capable of perpetual progress in drawing nearer to his nature; and shall partake of the divine eternity, when time and the world shall be no more. This is all that is respectable in man. By this alone, he is raised above perishable substances, and allied to those that are celestial and immortal. This part of our nature, then, let us cultivate with care; and, on its improvement, rest our self-estimation. If, on the contrary, suffering ourselves to be wholly immersed in matter, plunged in the dregs of sensuality, we behave as if we were only made for the body and its animal pleasures, how degenerate and base do we become? Destined to survive this whole material system, sent forth to run the race of immortality and glory, shall we thus abuse our Maker’s goodness, degrade our original honour, and sink ourselves into deserved misery? It remains, that,
4. We contemplate the dissolution of the world, as the introduction to a greater and noble system, in the government of God. We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Temporal things are now to give place to things eternal. To this earthly habitation is to succeed the city of the living God. The earth had completed the purpose for which it was created. It had been employed as a theatre, on which the human generations were successively to come forth, and to fulfill their term of trial. As long as the period of trial continued, much obscurity was of course to cover the counsels of Providence. It was appointed, that all things should appear as coming alike to all; that the righteous should seem often neglected by Heaven, and the wicked be allowed externally to prosper; in order that virtue and piety might undergo a proper test; that it might be shown who were sincere adherents to conscience, and who were mere followers of fortune. The day which terminates all those seeming disorders. The time of trial is concluded. The final discrimination of characters is made. When the righteous go to everlasting happiness, and the wicked are dismissed into the regions of punishment, the whole mystery of human affairs is unraveled; and the conduct of Providence is justified to man.
Suited to a condition of trial was the state and form of the world, which we now inhabit. It was not designed to be a mansion for innocent and happy spirits; but a dwelling for creatures of fallen nature, and of mixed characters. Hence, those mixtures of pleasure and pain, of disorder and beauty, with which it abounds. Hence, some regions of the earth, presenting gay and pleasing scenes; others, exhibiting nothing but ruggedness and deformity; the face of nature, sometimes brightened by a serene atmosphere, and a splendid sun; sometimes disfigured by jarring elements, and overcast with troubled skies. But far unlike shall be the everlasting habitations of the just: though how they are formed, or what objects they contain, is not given us now to conceive; nor, in all probability, would our faculties be equal to the conception. The emblematical descriptions of them in Scripture, are calculated to excite high ideas of magnificence and glory. This one particular we know with certainty, that therein dwelleth righteousness; that is, complete virtue and eternal order; and wherever these are found, the most perfect sources are opened of joy and bliss. This earth was never intended for more than the outer court, the porch, through which the righteous were to pass into the temple and sanctuary of the Divinity. When that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.
The inference which follows from what has been said on this subject, cannot be so well expressed as in the words of the Apostle, in the verse immediately following the text; seeing that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness? Ought not the important discoveries which have been made to us, of the designs of the Almighty, and of the destiny of man, to exalt our sentiments, and to purify our life from what is vain? While we pursue the business and cares of our present station, and partake of the innocent pleasures which the world affords, let us maintain that dignity of character, which becomes immortal beings; let us act with that circumspection, which becomes those who know they are soon to stand before the judgment-seat of the Son of God: In a word, let us study to be what we would wish to be found, if to us the day of the Lord should come.
Next time we will conclude with Part Four