Imágenes de páginas

with the view of our past life; tormented with present pain ; and hovering over an abyss from which we are uncertain if we shall ever emerge ! To pass for ever into the dominion of darkness; to go we know not where ! Lost in these doubts, troubled with the fears of futurity, the Roman Emperor addressed his departing soul: " O my soul, thou art leaving thy bnce loved haunts, thy former companions, and thy wonted joys; but into what unknown regions and dark abodes art thou now going? Alas! thou canst hot tell!" These doubts and perplexities are now removed by the coming of Christ, When the Sun Of Righteousness rose in our region, it dispelled the shadows of the everlasting evening; it poured its radiance upon the path of immortality, and brought full to view the scenes of the invisible world. The future scenes of happiness and glory are not only discovered by the Gospel of Jesus, but are set before our eyes. . In the inspired oracles, we hear the voice bf the archangel and the trump of God we see the dead arising from their graves; a mighty army of, saints and martyrs springing'with joy from dust and corruption. We see Jesus upon the throne, and the faithful at his right hand: We hear the happy sentence pronounced upon them, " Come ye blessed of "my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you "before the foundations of the' world were laid." We see them'with palms of victory in their hands, and with crowns of glory on their heads, ascending up on high with their Lord, and sitting down with him upon his throne. -''" l

Another evil attending on death is the sense of our sins and transgressions, which then rising up to our memory in black colours, overwhelm us with horror of mind. But to those who receive the privileges of Christianity, the bed of death will not be a scene of terror. With a faith which overcometh the world, they gave up their souls into the hands of him who made them. "1 have indeed sinned, most merciful Father, against Heaven and in thy sight. Mine iniquities compass me about. I am covered with confusion, and condemn myself, and often have been afraid least thy judgment should confirm the sentence of my own heart. But thou art merciful and gracious. Thou bast no pleasure in death. I am unworthy of the least of all thy mercies. But worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive blessing, and glory, and honour, and power. In his death I see the price of my redemption. In his life I see the path which leads to immortality. In his resurrection I see the proof of my own, and evidence of my immortal existence. I have accepted the offers of thy mercy, and have endeavoured to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith I was called. With whatever failings I may have been encompassed, thou knowest that it has been the study of my life to approve myself to thee, and to obtain the testimony of a good conscience. Trusting to thy mercy, and relying on the merits of my Redeemer, Father of all, I come to thee 1 With.the joy of the Patriarch, 1 follow thy call into the land unknown."

Thus, my brethren, I have endeavoured to set before you some of the, joyful consolations derived from the Gospel of Jesus; consolations which not only serve to support and animate us under the afflictions of this present life, but which also enter within the veil, and constitute our happiness through everlasting ages. But before I conclude, regard to my duty prompts me to warn and admonish you, that though the glad tidings of the Gospel are proclaimed to all, yet the consolations which they contain are not intended for, and are not conferred upon all who hear the Gospel. It is only they who believe, who repent, who reform, that will ever reap any solid advantage from the Chiistian religion. The profession of Christianity will avail us nothing. It will avail us toothing to say that we have faith. We may easily deceive ourselves, and make a lively imagination pass for a strong faith. But unless our faith jmrifies the heart, unless it works by love, unless it i '- .

produces the fruits of righteousness, it is no better than the faith of the devils, who believe and tremble. Let me therefore persuade you, never so much as in thought, to separate the ideas of faith and morality; of belief in Christianity and a good life. If you make the attempt, you are undone for ever.


Acts xvii. 30.

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.

THIS is part of a sermon which the Apostle Paul delivered at Athens. The Athenians were the most ingenious and most illustrious people of Greece. Situated in a happy climate, and blessed with the highest degree of liberty which mankihfl ' can enjoy, they bent their genius to the cultivatiorujrf'Ai^. sciences and arts. These they carried to such a-^itch of perfection, as gained the palm from th^! contending world, and has attracted the eyes and admiration of all succeeding ages. But to shew the darkness and the ignorance of the human mind when not enlightened by the wisdom which cometh from above, as soon as they turned themselves to religion, they displayed nothing but their own absurdities and follies. In place of a rational and liberal form of religion, a gross and stupid idolatry universally prevailed; in place of the true God, they bowed the knee to a dumb idol; and instead of the worship of the heart, consecrated to his service impure and profane observances. Zealous to destroy this fabric of superstition, the Apostle Paul, rising in the midst of an assembly that was convened on the hill of Mars, reproved those masters of science, those lights of the Heathen world, with the boldness and the majesty of an apostle of the Lord. "Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye "are too superstitious:—the times of this ignorance ',' God winked at; but now commandeth all men «* every where to repent."

Repentance towards God is the great and leading duty enjoined both in the Old and in the New Testament. Along with every revelation of the Divine will; along with every new commission to prophets and holy men to preach this Divine will, the duty of repentance is always inculcated in the strongest terms. The patriarch Noah preached repentance to the world before the flood. John the Baptist began his' public ministry by preaching the doctrine* of repentance. "Except ye repent, ye shall perish," was the awful denunciation of our Lord. And his apostles constantly began or ended their sermons with exhortations to this duty. This message, so often delivered to the world, I now address to you; and demand your serious attention to this most important subject; And, in further treating upon it, I shall, in the first place, Explain to you the nature of repentance; and, second///,' Lay before you the motives which ought to' influence your minds to the practice of this duty.

The first thing proposed, was, To explain the nature of true repentance.

Repentance unto life, as it is well defined in that excellent summary of theology, the Shorter Cate-', chism, is, "A saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of "a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the "mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hat"red of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full "purpose of, and endeavour after new obedience." According to this definition, repentance includes,. first, A true sense of sin? secondly, Grief and hatred of sin; thirdly, Apprehension of the mercy of God irt Christ, the forsaking of sin, and endeavouring after* new obedience.

First, A true sense of sin. This must be the groundwork of all the rest, because it is impossible to hate what we do not feel. It is impossible to conceive 3 hatred and aversion against a thing of which we are not sensible, or to flee from a danger of which we' have no apprehension. Where there is no sense of

« AnteriorContinuar »