Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

tion of medicine. It will be grateful only to the sick. And our Lord says, that the whole need not a physician.' It is one of the sweetest and most affectionate recommendations of his character, that he came not to heal the healthy,. but to cure the diseased. If you know your malady, depend upon it you are not far from obtaining relief. It hath been long my complaint, that ' in me dwelleth no good thing.' And though I have been some years in the school of self-knowledge, I have made but small proficiency in the science. A science indeed so general, which comprises the whole of man, is not easily acquired. The deepest investigations do not reach to the bottom. For we are told by an authority not to be questioned, that the heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked ;' and that none can know it, but he who trieth the heart and searcheth the reins*' For it is not this or that particular instance of sin only, but our whole nature which is virtually all sin ; and not a member or faculty of the body, but what is tainted by it. Ask the most devout saint the earth ever produced, Can you restrain the mind from wandering in seasons of worship? Even if you close your eyes from all the objects around,

. . *Jerem. xvi. 9, 10.

will not rude and impertinent thoughts rush into the mind, like unbidden and unwelcome visitors ? Do you always find freedom for the affections to mount on the wings of faith and prayer, when you draw nigh the mercy seat? Alas! there is not a single sense but what is in confederacy to promote sin in the soul! Our eyes are continual purveyors of evil, and our ears inlets to bring home subjects of defilement. What a train of filthy and impure ideas will sometimes pass over the chastest breast, which no education can restrain, but which a man would blush to unbosom to his nearest friend!

"And what makes this awful view of man's total depravity still more awful is, that there is no exemption from it, but it is universal. Corrupt nature is the same in all. This hand of mine is as capable of perpetrating any one act of sin, and the heart, which gives birth to the action of devising it, as that of the vilest wretch that ever lived. For the only distinction of character between man and man, is in what God's grace effects, not what man's merit deserves. You seem to be surprised; but such is the fact.'-Look here, (he cried, taking a handful of seeds out of his pocket,) here are a number of seeds, all taken from one and the same stock: if I were to put all of them into the earth in the same soil, the same situations, under the same aspect of sun, and rain, and dew, they would as certainly produce the same in equal fruitfulness. But if I put a part only into the earth, and reserve the remainder in my pocket, is it not equally as certain, that the part reserved will remain inert and unproductive ; and that which is cast into the ground be alone fruitful? The human heart, like those seeds, being from one and the same stock; and in its genus, species, and kind, in all instances the same, must invariably in all cases be alike, if all other circumstances con. cur. So that if this be not induced, it arises not from a diversity of character, but from other causes. It is grace which prevents the sun, and rain, and dew, (if I may be allowed the figure,) of temptation and opportunity, from exerting their influence; and then, like the seeds in the pocket, in the absence of those causes, they remain barren and unfruitful.

But, Sir, (I replied,) if such be the universal state of mankind, what a deplorable situation is our nature in! And how then can any be saved ? .

. . . It is this very state of our nature, (the traveller answered,) which made way for salva'tion by grace. Because man is fallen, Christ died. If you were not a sinner, what necessity would there have been for a Saviour !

"Tell me, (I cried with great earnestness, is that Saviour for me?'

I shall be ready, (rejoined the traveller,) to answer any questions you think proper to propose to me upon the interesting subject, as far as I am able; from whence you may be assisted to gather information on the point.' :! I thank you, Sir, (I answered :) but one circumstance I will beg you previously to explain. In calling lately upon a family, whom I found at their devotions, I discovered nothing like what I have since felt of the deadness and unprofitableness of iny heart; but they all seemed

to be perfectly cheerful and happy. From ( what principles will you account for this?

*¢The thing speaks for itself, (replied the tra• veller.) In a state of unawakened, unregene

rated nature, the carnal security and blindness of the mind induces this false joy, and prevents a real concern for the one thing needful.' False reasonings, presumptuous hopes, and views of religion different from those of the openly profane; these act as mighty persuasives on the imagination ; and speak peace, peace, where a there is no peace.' Like children amused with a

rattle, such persons take up with the carcass and shell of religion, and are ignorant of the vital principle within. An outward form of godliness satisfies for the inward power of it.' And thus resting upon the means, and unconscious of the end, their forms and ceremonies of devotion, instead of leading the heart to God, tend to carry the heart from God, and they know nothing more of religion than the name. And herewith their conduct uniformly corresponds. You will find such characters as well at the playhouse as at the Church. They can sit both at the Lord's table and the card table, and are as well known at the one as the other. Thus they live in the vanity and ignorance of the mind; and thus not unfrequently they die ; ignorant of themselves, ignorant of their own corruptions, strangers to all the principles of grace, without God, and without Christ. The portrait of these persons is accurately drawn by the pencil of God in holy Scripture, and you may view two correct outlines of it in the 21st chapter of the book of Job; and the 73d Psalm of David. Very different is that which the Blessed Spirit hath given us in sweet miniatures of his people, throughout his whole word. But come, Sir, as you have seen the gaity of the formal worshipper, let me lead you into the assembly

« AnteriorContinuar »