« AnteriorContinuar »
Gospel dispensation. Who is our Creator ? Who our Redeemer ? Who our Sanctifier ? And what duties do we owe to each ? These are questions to which no Christian can be supposed indifferent. They relate to the Persons whom we are bound to worship, to pray to, to trust in, to love, honour, and obey, in sincerity and truth. At our baptism we commenced our allegiance to each. To each we give glory in our daily acts of praise and thanksgiving. We supplicate each to “ have mercy upon us.” In the name of each we receive absolution and benediction. We acknowledge each to be “ Holy:" and in confessing them jointly to be “ The “ Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and “ is to come,” we recognise every blessing, past, present, and future, as resulting from their united operation.
Holy, Holy, Holy, then is each Person of the Godhead-Holy in creation, in redemption, in sanctification-Holy in mercy and in justice-Holy in power, wisdom, and goodness—Holy Father, Holy Son, Holy Spirit.
Now, therefore, to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, three Persons and one God, be ascribed, as is most due, all honour and glory, might, majesty, and dominion, henceforth and for ever.
1 Cor. ii. 9. It is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,
neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
IT is characteristic of man, as distinguished from other inhabitants of this lower world, that he extends his views and his desires beyond the objects immediately before him ; that he is endowed with an excursive faculty, continually ranging out of the sphere wherein the body is confined, not limited in its views to the present moment, or even to the present state of existence; but whose delight it is to retrace the past, to anticipate the future, to search after objects imperceptible to the outward senses, and to soar into those regions of conjecture and imagination, which to all inferior creatures seem to be precluded as sources of enjoyment or expectation. The very existence of such a faculty affords a strong presumptive evidence, that this world is not to be the limit of our existence. Its direct tendency is to excite aspirations after some higher state of being, adapted to a fuller exercise of its powers. And since there appears to be no other propensity inherent in us for which some provision is not made by our beneficent Creator, the inference is almost unavoidable, that this ardent desire of looking beyond things temporal, and directing our thoughts towards the invisible world, has not been bestowed upon us in vain. Yet certain it is, that nothing in our present state affords the means of satisfying this intellectual appetite, this hunger and thirst after things spiritual and eternal, which is perpetually craving what we find it impossible to obtain.
St. Paul, in the passage introductory to the words of the text, dilates upon the insufficiency of “the wisdom of this world” to give us an insight into those mysterious and sublime truths which the Christian revelation sets before us; and he disclaims all pretensions, on his own part, to ground them upon any discoveries of human knowledge. “ How
beit,” says he, “we speak wisdom among “ them that are perfect; yet not the wisdom “ of this world: but we speak the wisdom of “ God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom “ which God ordained before the world unto “ our glory, which none of the princes of this “ world knew :"_“ but as it is written, Eye “ hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have “ entered into the heart of man, the things “ which God hath prepared for them that “ love him.” This, together with the parallel passage in the prophet Isaiah “, is applicable to the whole Christian dispensation, as a manifestation of God's love to mankind which no human research could have discovered, no human imagination have conceived. But with peculiar force it may be understood to have reference to the unspeakable enjoyments reserved for the righteous in a future state ; these being “ the things which God hath
prepared for them that love him;" the things also which the heart of man most eagerly desires to know, but which hitherto no eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor any powers of the human intellect have been able to apprehend. If, indeed, (as is most evident,) unenlightened reason has never yet been able satisfactorily to resolve even the great general question, whether there be a future state; still less can it decide any particular questions relative to
a Isaiah Jxiv. 4.
that state, its mode of existence, its enjoyments or sufferings, its duration or extent. On these points all is darkness and uncertainty, till light breaks in upon them from the source of light, the revealed word of God. To the oracles, then, of holy writ we must bend our steps for the desired information.
Yet even here let us beware of indulging extravagant expectations. Though the Gospel unequivocally assures us of a future state, and represents the happiness of the righteous in that state in terms which leave us nothing either to ask or to desire more than is promised; yet its specific enjoyments are to be collected rather from figurative and incidental expressions, than from explicit and direct declarations. It guards, indeed, effectually against the fables of Paganism and the reveries of a licentious imagination ; but it restrains inordinate curiosity, interposing a veil between this world and the next, and forbidding us to attempt the removal of it by unhallowed hands. Approaching the subject, therefore, with that humility and reverential awe which it ever ought to inspire, let us view it uninfluenced by any presumptuous desire to look beyond what is clearly revealed ; content, on this as on every other