Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

to serve his turn; and the enemy of all good- | upon earth, are to subsist in the kingdom of ness will condescend to quote that scripture heaven. But the supposition is founded in which he hates, if it can help him to an ar- | ignorance and falsehood; and, the moment it gument for the occasion. With this affected | is denied, the mighty argument built upon it deference for Moses, the Sadducees are aim- falls to the ground.“ In the resurrection,” ing at the total subversion of every moral says Christ," they neither marry, nor are and religious principle, by weakening one given in marriage, but are as the angels of of the strongest motives to virtue, and under-God in heaven." mining the surest foundation of hope and joy In these words, the condition of men in the to man. They allege, that obedience to the world to come, is described, first, negatively, law might eventually lead to much confusion": they neither marry, nor are given in marand disorder: and they suppose a situation, riage.” The power which created the heafor none such ever existed, in which compli- vens and the earth, and all the host of them, ance with the revealed will of God in this might undoubtedly, had it pleased him, have world would infallibly lead to discord and created the whole human race at once, as distress in that which is to come. In this we easily as he formed the first of men, Adam, have an example of a very common case; and as easily as he rears up one generation that of men straining their eyes to contem- of men after another, in the course of his plate objects at a great distance, or totally providence. But, thinking it meet to people out of sight, and wilfully neglecting or over-the earth by multiplying mankind gradually looking those which are immediately before upon it, difference of sex, and the institution them: troubling themselves about effects and of marriage, were the means which he was consequences of which they are ignorant, pleased to employ. In the resurrection, the and over which they have no power, while number of the redeemed being complete at they are regardless of obvious truth and com- once, that difference, and that institution, manded duty, though these are their imme- being unnecessary, shall be done away. Our diate business and concern. The Sadducees, Saviour adds, “neither can they die any in order to cloak their licentiousness and in- more.” Death, too, enters into the plan of fidelity, affect solicitude about the regularity Providence for the government of this world. and

peace of a future state, which in words Men must be removed, to make room for they denied, if they did not from the heart men. But because this sphere is narrow and disbelieve.

contracted, and unable to contain and support I make but one remark more before I pro- the increasing multitudes of many generaceed to our Lord's reply. Eagerness and tions, is the Lord's hand shortened, that he anxiety to bring forward and to establish an cannot expand a more spacious firmament, opinion, betray an inward doubt or disbelief and compact a more spacious globe, to conof it.- Truth is not ever proclaiming itself tain, at once, the countless nations of them from the house tops, is not forward to obtrude that are saved ? O how greatly do men err; itself upon every occasion, but is satisfied not knowing the power of God! Death is no with maintaining and defending itself when part of the plan of Providence for the governassaulted; but falsehood is eternally striving ment of that world of bliss. , In our Father's to conceal or strengthen its conscious weak- house above there are many mansions; there ness by a parade of words, and a show of rea- is bread enough, and to spare; there is room son. The zeal of the Sadducees to explode for all, provision for all: the father need not and run down the doctrine of the resurrec- to die, to give space to the son, nor the motion, plainly betrays a secret dread and be-ther to spare, that the child may have enough. lief of it.

For they are was the angels of God," says Our Lord, in his answer, points out directly our Lord, according to Matthew, “ equal to the source of all error and infidelity, “ye do the angels,” says our evangelist, “and are err, not knowing the scriptures, and the the children of God.” power of God.” Not knowing the scriptures, This describes their happiness positively. ye suppose a doctrine is not in them, because Men on earth“ see in a glass darkly; know ye have not found it there: because ye have in part, prophesy in part,” are encompassed wilfully shut your own eyes, ye vainly ima- with infirmity; but the “angels in heaven" gine there is no light in the sun; and take excel in strength, stand before the throne of upon you to affirm there is none. Not know- God, serve him day and night in his temple, ing the power of God, you call that impossi- without wearying, see face to face,“ know ble which you cannot do, deem that absurd as they are known." Their number is comwhich

you do not comprehend, and pronounce pleted, their intercourse is pure and perfect, that false which you wish to be so. The without the means of increase, and union whole force of the objection to the truth of which exist here below. the resurrection, goes upon the supposition, Having thus reproved their ignorance and that the future world is to be exactly con- presumption, respecting the “power of God," stituted as the present; that the relations our Lord proceeds to expose their ignorance and distinctions which subsist among men respecting “the scriptures,” and produces a

[ocr errors]

passage from Moses, in whom they trusted, not of; and he now looks forward in holy which they had hitherto overlooked or mis- rapture to that period when he, and his Isaac, understood, wherein the doctrine in dispute and an earthly Canaan, and every thing of a was clearly laid down; and which we had temporal and transitory nature, shall bring principally in view in leading your attention their glory and their honour, and lay all at to this passage on the present occasion. the feet of Him, who sitteth upon the throne,

The passage quoted, is that noted declara- and before the Lamb.” tion of God to Moses, from the midst of the From Abraham we are removed to a disburning bush, “I am the God of thy father, tance of time and place, in which thought is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and lost, and we seem to have no more interest the God of Jacob."* That God should have in him than if he had never existed. But condescended to hold this language concern the doctrine of the text brings us so close to ing Enoch, " who was translated that he him, that we recognise the friend of God, in should not see death,” had been less wonder- the midst of myriads of saints in glory; we ful; for that holy man, who walked with God converse with him, and continue to be inupon earth, was exalted immediately to a structed by him. more intimate union with God in heaven. The dust of Abraham sleeps unnoticed and But to speak thus of men who were long ago forgotten in the cave of Machpelah; but lift mouldered into dust, of whom nothing re- up thine eyes and behold Abraham on high, mained among men but their names, conveys and Lazarus in his bosom; his spirit united an idea of human existence, before which the to God “the Father of spirits,” and to all life of a Methuselah dwindles into nothing, “the spirits of just men made perfect." an idea which swallows up mortality, and “And even that dust” also“ rests in hope:" gives a dignity and a duration to man that It shall not always be left in the place of the bids defiance to the grave. That God should dead; it shall not remain for ever a prey to say to Abraham, while he lived, “ I am thy corruption. Abraham purchased a tomb, and shield, and thy exceeding great reward,"t buried his Sarah out of his sight; but he has was a miracle of grace and condescension; overtaken, regained her, in the regions of but to speak thus, more than three centuries eternal day, wherè virtuous and believing after he had been consigned to the tomb, “I friends meet, never more to be disjoined. am the God of Abraham," this exhibits a re- Abraham received his Isaac from the wonlation between God and the faithful, which der-working hand of Heaven, when nature perfectly reconciles the mind to the thoughts was dead to hope; at the command of God of dissolution. Indeed it is impossible to con- he cheerfully surrendered him again, and ceive any thing more elevating, any thing devoted him upon the altar: again he remore tranquillizing to the soul, than the view ceives him to newness of life, and that darof future bliss with which the text presents ling son lives to put his hand upon his

eyes. us. And this tranquillity and elevation are But they were not long disunited; the son greatly heightened by the consideration, that has overtaken the parents : they rejoice in Jehovah from the midst of faming fire, un- God, and in one another; they are the childer the Old Testament dispensation, and Je-dren and heirs of the resurrection; " they hovah, in the person of the great Redeemer, are as the angels of God in heaven. under the New, taught the same glorious “I am the God of Isaac.” This Isaac the truth to the world. And what is it? “ I am heir of Abraham's possessions, of his faith, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and of his virtues, was on earth united to and the God of Jacob."

the God of the spirits of all flesh, by many When God was pleased to express his tender and important relations: by piety, by favourable regard to Abraham upon earth, filial confidence, by goodness, by patience what did it amount to? He led him through and submission, on his part; by election, by a particular district of land, in the length and special favour, by highness of destination, the breadth of it, and said, “I will give it on the part of his heavenly Father. Yet thee.” But Abraham now expatiates through these distinguished advantages exempted him a more ample region, and contemplates a not from the stroke of affliction. Many fairer inheritance, an inheritance his own, years did this heir of the promises, this chonot in hope, but in possession. Abraham, sen seed, “in whom all the families of the though following the leading of the Divine earth should be blessed," many years did he Providence, saw the Redeemer's day only go childless. Early in life was he visited afar off: but, in virtue of his relation to God, with the loss of sight, and thereby exposed he has now beheld the dawning of the morn- to much mortification and dejection of spirit. ing expanded into the pure light of the per- Children are at length given him, and they feet day. He once felt the events which prove the torment of his life; they excite a affected his family, with the emotion natural war betwixt nature and grace in his own to a man; he has since beheld them extending breast; discord and jealousy arm them against their influence to nations which he thought each other; he is in danger of losing them

Gen. xv. 1.

both in one day.” The one must be banished

1

* Exod. iii. 6.

from his father's house, the other mingles thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy with idolators. Behold a wretched, blind One of Israel, thy Saviour." Believing and old man, a prey to “grief of heart." But resting upon this sure foundation, the Christhese things, on the other hand, dissolved tian triumphs in the prospect of departing not, interrupted not his covenant relation to and being with Christ:" he smiles at the God: they served but to cement and strength threatening looks of the king of terrors, ex. en the divine friendship: and death which, ults and sings " with the sweet singer of Isto human apprehension, separates every con- rael," " yea, though I walk through the val. nexion, and indeed tears asunder every mor- ley of the shadow of death, I will fear no tal tie, only brought him into a clearer light, evil: for thou art with me, thy rod, and thy and to intercourse and intimacy, which can staff, they comfort me. Surely goodness and never expire.

mercy shall follow me all the days of my “I am the God of Jacob." In all the wan- life, and I will dwell in the house of the derings, in all the dangers, in all the dis- Lord for ever:""* and triumphs with the entresses of this patriarch; in all his successes, raptured apostle of the Gentiles, “O death, all his acquisitions, all his joys, we discover where is thy sting ; O grave, where is thy the relation of God to him, expressed in these victory? Thanks be to God who giveth us words; and we behold the presence of God the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”+ with him whithersoever he went, constantly It is a transporting reflection, that the relieving the wretchedness of one state; fond wishes and desires of the human heart dignifying and supporting the felicity of are warranted, encouraged, and supported the other. This gave him security from by the revelation of God: that the life and the violence of an incensed brother; this immortality which we naturally pant after, cheered the solitude of Luz, and turned it are brought to light by the gospel. It is into a Bethel; by this the slumbers of a pleasant to find wise and good men, guided head reposed on a pillow of stone were only by the light of reason, and the honest made refreshing and instructive; this re- propensities of nature, cherishing that very pressed and overbalanced the rapacity of La- belief, cleaving to that very hope, which the ban; this supported and sanctified the loss text inspires. Cicero, in his beautiful treaof Joseph; this sweetened the descent into tise on old age, while he relates the sentiEgypt, and dissipated the gloom of death; ments of others, sweetly delivers his own on by this, though dead, he exists, though silent, this subject. The elder Cyrus, according to he speaketh, "absent from the body he is Xenophon, thus addressed his sons before his present with the Lord;" the moment of his death: “Do not imagine, O my dear childeparture is on the wing to overtake that dren, that when I leave you, I cease to exist. of his redemption from the power of the For even while I was yet with you, my spirit grave. Before God, the distance shrinks into you could not discern; but that it animated nothing. That word, that one little word, I this body you were fully assured by the acAM, unites the era of nature's birth with tions which I performed. Be assured it will that of its dissolution, it joins eternity to eter- continue the same, though still you see it nity, “and swallows up death in victory." not. The glory of illustrious men would

The same gracious declaration applies, sink with them into the grave, were not with equal truth and justice, to every son their surviving spirits capable of exertion, and daughter of faithful Abraham,” to eve- and concerned to rescue their names from ry“ Israelite indeed.” We speak of depart-oblivion. I can never suffer myself to be ed friends in the past time, we “cannot but persuaded, that the man lives only while he remember such things were ; and were most is in the body, and dies when it is dissolved; dear to us;” but it is the glorious preroga- or that the soul loses all intelligence on betive of Jehovah to employ eternally the pre-ing separated from an unintelligent lump of sent in describing his own essence, and his clay; but rather that, on being liberated covenant relation to his people: “I AM from all mixture with body, pure and entire, THAT I AM.” “I AM the God of thy it enters upon its true intellectual existence. father," of thy buried, thy lamented brother, At death, any one may discover what befriend, lover. child. And to us also is the comes of the material part of onr frame; all word of this consolation sent, “ Fear not, for sinks into that from which it arose, every I am with thee, be not dismayed, I am thy thing is resolved into its first principle; the God.” “Thus saith the Lord, that created soul alone is apparent neither while it is thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, 0 with us, nor when it departs. What so much Israel: Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, resembles death as sleep? Now the powers I have called thee by name, thou art mine. of the mind, in sleep, loudly proclaim their When thou passes through the waters, I own divinity: free and unfettered, the soul will be with thee, and through the rivers, plunges into futurity, ascends its native sky. they shall not overflow thee; when thou Hence we may conclude how enlarged those walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be powers will be, when undepressed, unreburnt; neither shall the flame kindle upon!

† 1 Cor. xv. 56. 57.

* Psal. xxiii, 4. G.

strained by the chains of flesh. Since these shall be admitted into the divine assembly of
things are so, consider and reverence me as the wise and good! When I shall make an
a tutelary deity. But, granting that the eternal escape from this sink of corruption,
mind were to expire with the body, never- and the din of folly! When, amidst the
theless, out of reverence to the immortal happy throng of the immortals, I shall find
gods, who support and direct this fair fabric thee also, my son, my Cato, best, most amia-
of nature, piously, affectionately cherish the ble of men! On thy ashes, I bestowed the
memory of your affectionate father.” The honours of the tomb. Ah! why did not mine
great Roman orator puts these words into rather receive them from thy hand! But
the mouth of Cato, in addressing his young your spirit, I know it, has never forsaken
friends Scipio and Lælius: “ Those excel- me; but, casting back many a longing,
lent men, your fathers, who were so dear to lingering look to your afflicted father, has re-
me in life, I consider as still alive: and in- moved to that region of purity and peace,
deed, as now enjoying a state of being which whither you were confident I should shortly
alone deserves to be dignified with the name follow you. And I feel, I feel our separa-
of life. For as long as we are shut up in tion cannot be of long continuance.
this dungeon of sense, we have to toil "If, indulging myself in this fond hope,
through the painful and necessary drudgery my young friends, I am under the power of
of life, and to accomplish the laborious task delusion, it is a sweet, it is an innocent de-
of an hireling. The celestial spirit is, as it lusion. I will hold it fast and never let it
were, depressed, degraded from its native go, while I live. I despise the sneer of the
seat, and plunged into the mire of this world, witling, who would attempt to laugh me out
a state repugnant to its divine nature and of my immortality. Suppose him in the
eternal duration.” And again, “ Nobody right, and myself under a mistake, he shall
shall ever persuade me, Scipio, that your not have the power to insult me, nor shall I
father Paullus, and your two grandfathers, have the mortification of feeling his scorn,
Paullus and Africanus, and many other emi- when we are both gone to the land of ever-
nent men whom it is unnecessary to mention, lasting forgetfulness."
would have attempted and achieved so many How pleasing the thought, my dear Chris-
splendid actions, which were to extend their tian friends, I again repeat it, how pleasing
influence to posterity, had they not clearly the thought, that the honest propensities of
discerned that they had interest in, and a nature, the fairest conclusions of unassisted
connexion with the ages of futurity, and with reason, and the most ardent breathings of
generations yet unborn. Can you imagine, truth and virtue, are here in unison with the
that I may talk a little of myself, after the clearest and most explicit declarations of the
manner of old men, can you imagine, that I holy scriptures!
would have submitted to so many painful

But the sacred Dove soars into a region toils, by night and by day, in the forum, in which nature and reason could never have the senate, in the field, had I apprehended explored. Revelation, to the immortality of that my existence, and my reputation, were the soul, has added the resurrection of the to terminate with my life? Were this the body. And “wherefore should it be thought case, would it not have been much better to a thing incredible that God should raise the doze away in indolence an insignificant and dead ?" The Spirit says to “ these dry bones, useless life? But I do not know how the soul Live." • We believe that Jesus died and incessantly exerting its native vigour, still rose again.” What a sure ground of hope, sprung eagerly forward into ages yet to that “them also who sleep in Jesus, God come, and seized them as its own.

will bring with him!” Delightful reflection! “ I feel myself transported with delight at Who would be so unjust to God, and so unthe thought of again seeing and joining your kind to himself, as to part with it? How it fathers, whom on earth I highly respected smooths the rugged path of life, how it and dearly loved ; and, borne on the wings tempers the bitterness of affliction, how it of hope and desire, I am speeding my flight dissipates the horrors of the grave! One to mingle in the honoured society, not of child sleeps in the dust, the diameter of the those only whom on earth I knew, and with globe separates me from another, but the whom I have conversed; but of those also of word of life, “I AM the God of thy seed," whom I have heard and read, and the history rescues that one from corruption, and puts of whose lives, I myself have written, for the the other in my embrace. Time dwindles instruction of mankind. I have the consola- into a point, the earth melts away, "the tion of reflecting, that I have not lived trumpet sounds," “ the dead arise incorruptiwholly in vain: and I quit my station in life ble." Behold all things are made new! without regret, as the wayfaring man, whose " New heavens and a new earth, wherein face is towards home, bids farewell to the dwelleth righteousness.”

“ Arise, let us go inn where he had stopped for a little refresh- hence," and "sit down with Abraham, Isaac, ment on his way. O glorious day, when I and Jacob, in the kingdom of God.”

[ocr errors]

HISTORY OF MOSES.

LECTURE XXXVIII.

By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter ; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.—HEBREWs xi. 24–27.,

The history of mankind contains many a umphs of his faith, the generous workings of lamentable detail of the sad reverses to which his public spirit, and the noble ardour of' ferhuman affairs are liable; of the affluent, by vent piety. unforeseen, unavoidable calamity, tumbled Philo and Josephus, however, and other into indigence: of greatness in eclipse; of Jewish writers, have taken upon them to fill the mighty fallen: of princes dethroned, up this interval of time, by a fanciful, fabubanished, put to death. In some instances lous, unsupported account of the earlier of this sort, we see the unhappy sufferers years of Moses; which we should perhaps making a virtue of necessity, and bearing be disposed, in part, to retail for your amusetheir misfortunes with a certain degree of ment, if not for your instruction, had not the patience and magnanimity; but in general, Spirit of God supplied us with well authentisudden and great distress either sours or de cated memoirs of a more advanced period of presses the spirit, and men submit to the his life. In the perusal of which, with will of providence with so ill a grace, that serious meditation upon them, we shall, I it is evident they are not under the power of trust

, find pleasure and profit blended to religion, and that they flee not for consola- gether. tion to the prospects of immortality.

Taking inspiration then for our guide, we We are this evening to contemplate one divide the history of Moses into three periods of those rare examples of true greatness of of equal duration in respect of time, namely, mind, which made a voluntary sacrifice of of forty years each ; but very different in rethe most enviable situation, and the most spect of situation, notoriety, and importance. flattering prospects, which human life ad- The first, and of which the Bible is silent, or mits of; and that at an age when the heart is speaks but a single word, presents him to most devoted to the pursuit of pleasure, most us a student in the schools of the Egyptian susceptible of the allurements of ambition. Magi, one among the princes in the court of It is the singular instance of Moses, the Pharaoh, a poet, an orator, a statesman, a prophet and legislator of Israel, who, brought general, or whatever else imagination pleases up from infancy in a court, instructed in all to make him. The second, exhibits an the learning of the Egyptians, treated as the humble shepherd, tending the flocks of heir of empire, and encouraged to aspire to Jethro his father-in-law, and fulfilling the all that the heart naturally covets, and that duties and exemplifying the virtues of the Providence bestows, on the most favoured of private citizen. In the third, we attend the mankind; at the age of forty cheerfully re- footsteps of the saviour of his nation, the signed all these advantages, and preferred leader and commander, the lawgiver and the life of a slave with his brethren, and of judge of the Israel of God: under whom the a shepherd in the land of Midian, among chosen race was conducted from Egyptian strangers, to all the luxury and splendour oppression, to the possession of the land belonging to the son of Pharauh's daughter, promised to Abraham and to his seed; the to all the dazzling hopes of royalty or of instrument chosen, raised up, and employed power next to majesty.

of the Divine Providence, to execute the Scripture, in its own admirable concise purposes of the Almighty, in a case which method, despatches the history of this great affected the general interests, spiritual and man's life, from his infancy to his fortieth everlasting, of all mankind. year, in a few short words, namely, “and It is of the second of these periods we are Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the now to treat ; and though our materials be Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in small and few, if we be so happy as to make deeds :' as not deeming information con- a proper use of them, we shall find that, by cerning attainments in human science, or the blessing of God, our labour has not been feats of martial prowess, worthy of the in vain. knowledge of posterity, comparod to the tri In Moses, then, in the very prime and

vigour of his life, we see a mind uncorrupted

[merged small][ocr errors]

• Acts vii,

« AnteriorContinuar »