Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

he will not prostitute what is pure and holy; he will not, as the Scripture says, throw pearls before swine; but neither will he on any occasion partake with swine in their husks. He is what he appears to be. Arrayed in the simple majesty of truth, he seeks no other covering. Supported by the consciousness of rectitude, he holds fast his integrity as he would guard his life. Such is the difference between these characters. The man of the earth turns aside to the crooked paths and insidious mazes of dissimulation; the citizen of heaven moves along in the onward track of integrity and honour. The spirit of the world seeks concealment, and the darkness, and the shade; the spirit which is of God loves the light, becomes the light, adorns the light. .

Thirdly, The spirit of the world is a timid spirit; the spirit which is of God is a bold and manly spirit. Actuated by selfish principles, and pursuing his own interest, the man of the earth is afraid to offend. He accommodates himself to the manners that prevail, and courts the favour of the world by the most insii nuating of all kinds of flattery, by following its example. He is a mere creature of the times; a mirror to reflect every vice of the vicious, and every vanity of the vain. His sole desire is to please. If he speak truths, they are pleasing truths. He dares not risk the disapprobation of a fool, and would rather offend against the laws of Heaven than give offence to his neighbour. To sinners he appears as a sinner; to saints he appears as a saint. In the literal sense, he becomes all things to all men, without aspiring to that faith whiOh would set him above the world, or to that spirit which would enable him to assert the dignity Of the rational character. He is timid, because he has reason to be so. A^ickedness, condemned by its own idleness, is timorous, and forecasteth grievous things. There is a dignity in virtue which keeps him at a distance; he feels how awful goodness is; and in the presence of a virtuous man, he shrinks jnto his own insignificance.

Oil the other hand, the righteous is bold as a lion. *' I fear my God, and I have no other fear," is the language of his heart. With God for his protector, and with innocence for his shield, he walks through the world with an erect posture, and with a face that looks upwards. He despises a fool, though he were possessed of all the gold of Ophir, and scorns a vile man, though a minister of state. The voice of the world is to him as a sounding brass, or tinkling cymbal. The applauses or the censures of the high or th« low affect him not. Like distant thunder they vibrate on his ear, but come not to his heart. To him his own mind is the whole world. There sits the judge of his actions, and he appeals to no other tribunal upon the earth. He possesses the spirit which rests upon itself. He walks by his own light, he determines upon his own deeds. Supported by the consciousness of innocence, and acting with all the force of providence on his side, he has nothing to fear; knows that he can no more be hurt by the rumours of the idle, impious, and hypocritical, than the heavens can be set on lire by the sparkles that arise into the air, and that die in the moment they ascend. Animated with this spirit, the feeble becomes strong in the Lord. Apostles, who on former occasions had been weak and timid, whom the voice of a woman frightened into apostacy, who deserted their Master in his deepest distress, and hid themselves from the fury of the multitude; these Apostles no sooner felt the impulse of this Spirit, than they appeared openly in the midst of Jerusalem, published the resurrection of Jesus to those priests and elders who had condemned him to death, and discovered a boldness and magnanimity, a spirit and intrepidity, which shook the councils of the Jewish nation, and made the kings of the earth to tremble on their thrones.

In the last place, The spirit of the world is an interested spirit; the spirit which is of God is a generous spirit. The man of the earth has no feeling but for himself, His own interest is his only object; he never loses sight of this; this is his all; every line of his conduct centres in this point. He has a design in every thing he does. As the prophet Malachi says, " He will not shut the doors for nought." He deliberates not whether an action will do good, but whether it will do good to him. That generosity of sentiment which expands the goul; that charming sensibility of heart which makes us glow for the good, and weep for the woes of others; that Christian charity which comprehends in its wide circle all pur brethren of mankind; that diffusive benevojence, reduced to a principle qf action, which makes the human nature apprpach to the Divine, he considers as the dreams of a yisionary head, as the figments pf a romantic mind thgrt knows not the wprhi.

But the spirit which is of God is as generous as the spirit pf the world is sordid. One of the phjff duties in the spiritual Jife is to deny ifself. Christianity is founded upon the most astonishing instance of generosity and love that ever was exhibited tp the world; and the)' have no pretensions to the Christian character who feel not the truth of what their Master said, "That it; is more blessed to give than to receive.'' This is not comprehended by wprldly men, and the more worldly and wicked they are, the more it is incomprehensible, ." I)oes Job serve God for nought?" said the first accuser of the just. Yes, thou accursed spirit! he serves God for nought. Thy votaries serve thee for lucre, and profit, and filthy mammon ; but the children of God serve him from reverence and love. Rewarded, indeed, they shall be in heaven, while thine are to be tormented, and by thyself in hell; but they account that to be a sufficient reward which they have even here in their own hearts,—^the consciousness and the applauses of generosity.

SERMON VI.

Luke xi. 13.

<—Ho:v much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holi) Spirit to them that ask him!

5N the beginning of this chapter,' our Lord. prescribed to his disciples a pattern of prayer. He discovered the Deity to them under the tender name of a Father; and he taught them .to approach the throne of Grace with the affection and' the confidence of children. To encourage them still more to the practice of this duty, he assures them of success upon their perseverance in devotion ; and to impress his instructions in the strongest manner upon their minds; he delivers a parable to them, which he concludes with these words; " Ask, and it shall be given you; "seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be o"pened unto you. For every one that asketh, re"ceiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him "that knocketh,- it shall be opened. If a son shall "ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give *c lfifn a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish '' give him a serpent? or if he shall ask an egg, will "he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, "know how to give good gifts unto your children, "how much more shall your heavenly Father give the "Holy Spirit to them that ask him ?" As if he had said, "1 have told you that God is your Father; that his ear is ever-Open to your cry, and that his hand is ever stretched out in your behalf. You that are fathers can judge of the paternal affection. If you see a child in distress, will your bowels of compassion be shut against him? When he utters the voice of sorrow, will you turn a deaf ear to his complaint? Will yott refuse to stretch out the hand to save him from the pit, and instead of relieving him; push him down into destruction ?. There is no father so barbarous, and no heart so cruel. If you, then, evil and corrupted as you are; if, clothed as you are with human frailties and infirmities, you know howto give good gifts unto your children ; if the workings of nature, and the yearnings of paternal affection, prompt you to perform good offices, how much more will the infinite benevolence of the Deity prompt him to bless all his offspring, and open his bountiful hand to the whole family of heaven and earth! As the Most High God, who inhabitetb eternity, excels his meanest creature, the being of a day, so far doth tlie infinite benignity and everlasting love of your Father in heaven exceed the fondest affection of an earthly parent.*'

In further discoursing to you upon this subject, I shall explain what is meant by giving the HolySpirit.

Perhaps these words may refer to the extraordinary effusion of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, when they- received the gift of tongues, and were endued with the power of working miracles. Though these words may include this meaning, yet they chiefly refer to the ordinary influence of the divine Spirit, which extends to every generation ; which is the principle of the spiritual lite within us, and continues with the faithful in all ages. Reason and revelation concur in assuring us, that the great Creator hath never withdrawn himself from his works. Above us, around us, and within us, God is seen, God is felt. • The vast universe is one great temple, which he fills with his presence. As he is ever present in the world, he is everiemployed. The hand that at first stretched out the heavens, still supports the pillars of the firmament. The breath which kindled the vital heat of nature, still keeps the flame a-*

« AnteriorContinuar »