Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the blessings that are falsely promised them : but with us, if a man is not a Christian, he is generally of no religion at all; and although some of this sort will say that they hope, through the mercy

of God, to be eternally happy; yet, in fact, no instances I believe are known, of such men being strongly moved by what they pretend to hope for, or of their making their hope the ruling principle of their conduct. Indeed, those who are Christians in name only, are themselves very little better ;-they say that they hope to go to heaven, but their hope is so tame, that one cannot see how it can yield them comfort, or how their happiness would be disturbed, if they were told that there was no such place as heaven in the universe.

We may remark, that when our Lord was foretelling the state of the world in after times, he more than once declared to his disciples that his Gospel would only in a small degree overcome the wickedness of the world.

66 When the Son of Man cometh,” he says, “shall he

, find faith upon the earth ?” And he says again, , that " as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man; that as before the flood men ate and drank, bought and sold, planted and builded, and thought nothing of God, till his judgments burst upon

[ocr errors]

them, and destroyed them all; that so it should be at the time * when the Son of man should be revealed.” Now how is it that so many amongst us are living exactly in the manner which Christ has described ? Let us just consider the way in which the early part of life is generally passed, and we shall soon cease to wonder that it leads so often to an unchristian state of manhood.

To begin with the earliest infancy. Within a few days or weeks of its birth, the parents wish to have their child baptized. The wish arises many times from mere custom: all children are christened, and ours must not be different from those of our neighbours. There is sometimes, too, a little superstition; a notion that baptism is a sort of charm which will preserve an infant from all mischief if it should die ; and there is, thirdly, the thought of getting friends

a

* Those persons who expect that there will be a final triumph, not only of the name, but of the Spirit of Christ throughout the earth, and that the glorious pictures of the Prophecies will be realized in this life, understand our Lord's coming, spoken of in these passages, in its subordinate sense, of bis coming to destroy Jerusalem ; but experience has

; shewn us, that whatever may be the state of things at his second coming, his words are at least applicable to every period of his Church that has hitherto elapsed, and were scarcely ever more applicable than at present.

together, and enjoying the festivities of what is called a christening. Whilst the child is taken to be baptized with such feelings on the part of his parents, they are provoking God to withhold his blessing from the sacrament which they thus profane ; nay, I had almost said, they are provoking him to send a curse upon them, and not a blessing

It is very curious to observe the different extremes in which men err with regard to the two sacraments. We know that many persons never can be prevailed upon to come to the Lord's Supper at all, because they are afraid of eating and drinking unworthily ; yet we never hear of

any who feel scruples about the sacrament of Baptism, or who are afraid of offering their child to receive the seal of the Christian covenant unworthily. Yet there can be no doubt that it is as great a sin to profane one of these ordinances as to profane the other; and a man who brings his child to be baptized, without any proper feeling of the blessings communicated in that sacrament, and of his own duties as connected with it, does, in fact, profane it as much as he who eats and drinks at the Lord's table with an unrepentant and uncharitable heart. But let us go on and see what is done with a child after baptism : he is suffered, very often, to live in complete ignorance of every thing that concerns his salvation. I have known boys of eight or nine years old, who did not so much as know what would happen to them after their death, but thought that after they were once put in the ground they would lie there for ever, and should never feel any thing any more either of good or evil. But even where this is not the case, the knowledge of heavenly things is too often taught as a lesson, and no pains are taken to make it seize hold upon the heart, and to influence the conduct. Time passes on, and the child is sent to school, or is wanted to assist his parents in their work, or to do something for his own maintenance. At school he finds himself placed among other children, most of whom have had as little Christian instruction as himself; and instead of meeting with any thing like Christian motives, or Christian behaviour among his companions, he learns a set of notions such as human nature, unassisted by divine knowledge, and too young to be guided by reason, is likely to invent and to act upon. It too often happens also, that he gains little or no religious instruction from his teachers, because they think, or pretend to think, that his parents will give it him at home; while his parents think that this, with all other kinds of learning,

must be forborne during the short time that he is with them, that he may have some portion of the

year which he may enjoy in perfect freedom. Besides it will often be the case, that the parents know and care little about spiritual things themselves ; and then it is not likely that they should be able or anxious to impress them upon others. In this way the boy grows up into the man, with a confirmed unchristian practice, and scarcely any relics of Christian knowledge. Thus armed,-or rather I should say, thus naked, -thus shackled,—thus prostrate and helpless before his enemy, he enters upon the conflict with the stormy passions of youth, and all the innumerable temptations of the world. And what is, what can be the issue ? In the ordinary course of things, it is a sinful life and a hopeless death; unless God sometimes touches the heart with a sense its of danger, and in his power and mercy brings it to a true and effectual conversion.

The picture which I have drawn may suit some conditions in life better than others; but in its principal points it will, I fear, apply too much to all. And what I am going to say is intended to be addressed also to all : and may be divided into two parts ;- first as far as concerns those who have children, scholars, or any

a

« AnteriorContinuar »