Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

[blocks in formation]

practical establishment to the law of love, has it yet begun to dawn upon the mind,
by surrounding it with accumulated penal- and spread its salutary and composing
ties? This may irritate, or it may terrify,- charm over that dark scene of conflict, un-
but for the purpose of begetting any thing der which many a sinner has to sustain the
like attachment, one may as well think of burden of the wearisome nights that are
lashing another into tender regard for him. appointed to him ?. You may seek for love
Or, do you think, that the terrors of the to God throughout all the chambers of his
coming vengeance will ever incline a hu- heart, and seek in vain. The man may be
man being to love the God who threatens acting such reformations as he is driven to,
him? Powerful as these terrors are, in and may be clothing himself in such visible
persuading man to turn from the.evil of his decencies, as he feels himself compelled to
ways,--they most assuredly do not form put on, and may be labouring away at the
the artillery by which the heart of man can drudgery of such observances as he thinks
be carried. They draw not forth a single will give him relief from the corrosions of
affection, but the affection of fear. They that undying worm, which never ceases to
never can charm the human bosom into a goad him with its reproaches; but as to the
feeling of attachment to God. And it goes love of God, there is as grim and deter-
to prove the necessity of some singular ex- mined an exclusion of this principle as
pedient, for restoring man to fellowship ever,--that avenue to his heart has never
with his Maker ; that the only obedience been unlocked, through which it might be
on which this fellowship can be perpetu- made to find its way,-every former argu-
ated, is an obedience which no threatenings ment, so far from having dissolved the bar-
can force,--to which no warnings of dis- rier, has only served to rivet and to make
pleasure can' reclaim, which all the solemn it more unmoveable. And the difficulty
proclamations of law and justice cannot still lies upon us,-how are we to deposit
carry,--and all the terrors and severities of in the heart of man, the only right princi-
a sovereignty resting on power, as its only ple of obedience to God,--and to lead him
foundation, can never subdue. The utter- onward in the single way of a pure, and
ance of the words, Thou shalt love the spiritual, and substantial repentance ?
Lord thy God, or perish everlastingly, can This, then, is a case of difficulty, and, in
no more open the shut and alienated heart the Bible, God is said to have lavished all
of man, than it can open a gate of iron. I the riches of his unsearchable wisdom on
Multiply these arguments of terror as you the business of managing it. No wonder
may,--arm them with tenfold energy, and that to his angels it appeared a mystery,
make them to fall in thunder on the sin- and that they desired to look into it. It
ner's ears,-tell him of the God of judg- appears a matter of direct and obvious
ment, and manifest to him the frown of his facility to intimidate man,--and to bring
angry countenance,-lay before him the his body into a forced subordination to all
grim aspect of his impending death, and the requirements. But the great matter
spread a deeper mantle of despair over the was, how to attach man,-how to work in
vast field of that eternity which is on the him a liking to God, and a relish for his
other side of it;- you may disquiet him, character ;-or, in other words, how to
and right that he should be so, - you may communicate to human obedience, that
prevail on him to give up many evil doings; principle, without which it is no obedience
and right that the whole urgency of the at all, -to make him serve God because he
coming wrath should be employed to make loved him; and to run in the way of all his
him give them up immediately, you may commandments, because this was the thing
set him a treinbling at the power of God, in which he greatly delighted himself. To
and better this than spending his guilty lay upon us the demand of satisfaction for
career, in thoughtlessness and unconcern, his violated law, could not do it. To press
about the great Lawgiver ;--but where, in home the claims of justice upon any sense
the midst of all this, shall we find obedience of authority within us, could not do it. To
to the very first and greatest commandment bring forward, in threatening array, the
of the law? Has this obedience been yet terrors of his judgment, and of his power
so much as entered on? Has love to God against us, could not do it. To unveil the
so much as reached the infancy of its ex- glories of that throne where he sitteth in
istence in that heart which is now begin- equity, and manifest to his guilty creatures
ning to be agitated by its terrors? Amid the awful inflexibilities of his truth and
all the bitterness of remorse, and all the righteousness, could not do it. To look out
fearful looking for of judgment, and all the from the cloud of vengeance, and trouble
restless anxieties of conscious guilt, and our darkened souls as he did those of the
anticipated vengeance, tell us, if a single Egyptians of old, with the aspect of a me-
particle of tenderness towards God has any nacing Deity, could not do it. To spread the
place in this restless and despairing bosom? field of an undone eternity before us, and
Tell us, if it act as an element at all, in this tell us of those dreary abodes where each
wild war of turbulence and disorder? Or, I criminal hath his bed in hell, and the cen-

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

turies of despair which pass over him are shall wither and expire under the contagion
not counted, because there no seasons roll, of their ruffian example; and will patronize
and the unhappy victims of the tribulation, every step of that progress which leads
and the wrath, and the anguish, know, that from one depravity to another, till their ill
for the mighty burden of the sufferings fated proselyte, made as much the child of
which weigh upon them, there is no end, hell as themselves, shall share in that com-
and no mitigation; this prospect, appalling mon ruin which, in the great day of the reve-
as it is, and coming home upon the belieflation of the righteous judgment of God, will
with all the characters of the most immuta- come forth from the storehouse of his wrath,
ble certainty, could not do it. The affections in one mighty torrent, on the heads of all
of the inner man remain as unmoved as who boast of their iniquity. We have now
ever, under the successive and repeated in touched on the limits of a subject of which
fluence of all these dreadful applications. half its horrors are untold; but through
There is not one of them, which, instead of which, the minister of the counsels of hea-
conciliating, does not stir up a principle of ven must clear his intrepid way, in spite of
resistance; and, subject any human crea- all its painfulness. We will not pursue it
ture to the treatment of them all, and to at present, but neither will we count the
nothing else, and he may tremble at God, digression out of place, should a single pa-
and shrink at the contemplation of God, rent among you be led, from what we have
and feel an overpowering awe at the thought now uttered, to be jealous over his children
of God, when that thought visits him ;~ with a godly jealousy, and not to suffer those,
but we maintain, that not one particle of for whose eternity he is so deeply responsi-
influence has been sent into his heart, to (ble, to take their random direction through
make him love God. Under such applica- society, just where the prospects of busi-
tions as these, we can conceive the crea ness, and of worldly advantage, may chance
ture, gathering a new energy from despair, to carry them; to calculate on the possi-
and mustering up a stouter defiance than bilities of moral corruption, as well as on
ever to the God who threatens him. Strange the possibilities of lucrative employment;
contest between the thing formed and him to look well to exposures and acquaintances,
who formed it ;-but we see it exhibited and hours of social entertainment, as well
among the determined votaries of wicked- as to the common-place object of a situation
ness in life; and it is the very contest which in the world. · And when you talk of a
gives its moral aspect to hell throughout all good line for your children, just think a
eternity. There God reigns in vindictive little more of the line that leadeth to eter-
majesty, and there every heart of every nity, and have a care lest you be the instru-
outcast, sheathed in impenetrable hardness, ment of putting them on such a path of
mutters its blasphemies against him. O danger, that it shall only be the very rarest
hideous and revolting spectacle! and how miracle of grace that your helpless young
awful to think that the unroclaimed sons of can be kept from falling, or be renewed
profligacy, who pour along our streets, and again into repentance. ..
throng our markets, and form the fearful But the difficulty in question still re-
majority in almost every chamber of busi-mains unresolved. How then is this re-
ness, and in every workshop of industry, generation to be wrought, if no threatenings
are thither speeding their infatuated way! can work it,-if no terrors of judgment
What a wretched field of contemplation is can soften the heart into that love of God,
around us, when we see on every side of it which forms the chief feature of repent-
the mutual encouragement, -the everply-ance,-if all the direct applications of law
ing allurements,-the tacit, though effectual and of righteous authority, and of its tre-
and well understood, combination, sustain-mendous and immutable sanctions, so far
ing, over the whole face of this alienated from attaching man in tenderness to his
world, a firm and systematic rebellion God, have only the effect of impressing a
against God! We are not offering an ex-violent recoil upon all his affections, and,
aggerated picture when we say, that within by the hardening influence of despair, of
reach of the walk of a single hour, there stirring up in his bosom a more violent an-
are thousands, and thousands more, who tipathy than ever? Will the high and so-
have cast away from them the authority of lemn proclamations of a menacing Deity
God; and who have been nerved by all his not do it? This is not the way in which
threatenings into a more determined atti- the heart of man can be carried. He is so
tude of wickedness; and who glory in their constituted, that the law of love can never,
unprincipled dissipations; and who, with- never be established within him by the en-
out one sigh at the moving spectacle of gine of terror; and here is the barrier to
ruined innocence, will, in the hearing of this regeneration on the part of man. But
companions younger than themselves, scat- if a threat of justice cannot do it, will an
ter their pestilential levities around ihem, act of forgiveness do it? This again is not
and care not though the hope of parents, the way in which God can admit the
and the yet unvitiated delicacy of youth, I guilty to acceptance. He is so constituted

[ocr errors][merged small]

that his truth cannot be trampled upon, God with the eye of his mind under this and his government cannot be despoiled new aspect, -love to God would spring up of its authority, and its sanctions cannot, in his heart, as the unfailing consequence. with impunity, be defied, and every solemn Let man see God as he sets himself forth utterance of the Deity cannot but find its in this wonderful revelation, and let him accomplishment, in such a way as may believe the reality of what he sees; and vindicate his glory, and make the whole he cannot but love the Being he is employcreation he has formed stand in awe of ed in contemplating. Without this gospel, its Almighty Sovereign. And here is an- he may see him to be a God of justice; other barrier on the part of God; and that but he cannot do this without seeing the economy of redemption, in which a dead frown of severity directed against himself, and undiscerning world see no skilfulness a wretched offender: With this gospel, he to admire, and no feature of graciousness sees the full burden of violated justice to allure, was so planned, in the upper borne away from him; and God stands becounsels of heaven, that it maketh known, fore him unrobed of all his severities, and to principalities and powers, the manifold tenderly inviting him to draw near through wisdom of Him who devised it. The men that blood of atonement which was shed, of this infidel generation, whose every fa- the just for the unjust, to bring the sinner culty is so bedimmed by the grossness of unto God. Without this gospel, he may sense, that they cannot lay hold of the see the truth of God; but he sees it pledged realities of faith, and cannot appreciate to the fulfilment of the most awful threatthem,--to them the barriers we have now enings against him: With this gospel, insisted on, which lie in the way of man he sees the full weight of all these actaking God into his love, and of God taking complishments resting on the head of the man into his acceptance, may appear to be great sacrifice; and God's truth is now 80 many faint and shadowy considerations, fully embarked on the most cheering asof which they feel not the significancy; surances of pardon, on the most liberal inbut, to the pure and intellectual eye of an- vitations of good will, on the most exceedgels, they are substantial obstacles, and sing great and precious promises. Without One Mighty to save had to travail in the this gospel, he may see the government of greatness of his strength, in order to move God leaning on the pillars of that immutathem away. The Son of God descended | bility which upholds it; but this very imfrom heaven, and he took upon him the mutability is to him the sentence of despair; nature of man, and he suffered in his stead, and how can he love that face, on which and he consented that the whole burden of are stamped the characters of a stern and offended justice should fall upon him, and vindictive majesty ? With this gospel, the he bore in his own body on the tree, the face of God stands legibly revealed to weight of all those accomplishments by him in other characters. That law which, which his Father behooved to be glorified, resting on the solemn authority of its firm and after having magnified the law, and and unalterable requirements, demanded a made it honourable, by pouring out his fulfilment, up to the last jot and tittle of it, soul unto the death for us, he went up on has been magnified, and has been made high, and by an arm of everlasting honourable, by one illustrious sufferer, who strength, levelled that wall of partition put forth the greatness of his strength, in which lay across the path of acceptance; ( that dark hour of the travail of his soul, and thus it is, that the barrier on the part when he bore the burden of all its penalof God is done away, and he, with untar-ties. That wrath which should have been nished glory, can dispense forgiveness discharged on the guilty millions he died over the whole extent of a guilty creation, l for, was all concentred upon him, who because he can be just, while he is the took upon himself the chastisement of our justifier of them who believe in Jesus. peace, and on that day of mysterious ago

And if the barrier, on the part of God, is ny, drank, to the very dregs, the cup of thus moved aside, why not the barrier on our expiation. And God, who planned the the part of man? Does not the wisdom of whole work of this wonderful redemption. redemption show itself here also ? Does it -God, who in love to a guilty world sent not embrace some skilful contrivance, by his Son amongst us to accomplish it, which it penetrates those mounds that be- God, who rather than lose his alienated set the human heart, and ward the en- creatures, as he could not strip his eternal trance of the principle of love away from throne of a single attribute that supported it, and which all the direct applications of it, awoke the sword of vengeance against terror and authority, have only the effect his fellow, that on him the truth and the of fixing more immoveably upon their justice of the Deity might receive their basis? Yes it does--for it changes the most illustrious vindication,-God, who, out aspect of the Deity towards man; and of Christ, sits surrounded with all the darkwere man only to have faith in the an-lness of unapproachable majesty, is now nouncements of the gospel, so as to see God in Christ, reconciling the world unto

19

himself, and not imputing unto them their defied and trampled on, and that it was not trespasses ; his tender mercy is now free possible for his perfections, to receive the to rejoice amid all the glory of his other slightest taint in the eyes of the creation bright and untarnished perfections, and he he had thrown around him; but that all pours the expression of his tenderness, this was provided for, and not a single with an unsparing hand, over the whole creature within the compass of the uniextent of his sinful creation and he lets verse he had formed, could now say, that himself down to the language of a beseech- forgiveness to man was degrading to the ing supplicant, praying that each and every authority of God, and that by the very act one of us might be reconciled unto him- of atonement, which poured a glory over and, putting on a winning countenance of all the high attributes of his character, his invitation to the guiltiest of us all, he tells mercy might now burst forth without us, that if we only come to him through limit, and without controul, upon a guilty the appointed mediator, he will blot out, as world, and the broad flag of invitation be with a thick cloud, our transgressions, unfurled in the sight of all its families. and that, as if carried away to a land that Let the sinner, then, look to God through was not inhabited, he will make no more the medium of such a revelation; and the mention of them.

sight which meets him there, may well And thus it is, that the goodness of God tame the obstinacy of that heart which had destroyeth the enmity of the human heart. wrapped itself up in impenetrable hardness When every other argument fails, this, if against the force of every other consideraperceived by the eye of faith, finds its tion. Now that the storm of the Almighty's powerful and persuasive way through wrath has been discharged upon him who every barrier of resistance. Try to ap- bore the burden of the world's atonement, proach the heart of man by the instru he has turned his throne of glory into a ments of terror and of authority, and it throne of grace, and cleared away from the will disdainfully repel you. There is not pavilion of his residence, all the darkness one of you skilled in the management of which encompassed it. The God who dwellhuman nature, who does not perceive, that, eth there, is God in Christ; and the voice though this may be a way of working on he sends from it, to this dark and rebellious the other principles of our constitution, province of his mighty empire, is a voice of working on the fears of man, or on his of the most beseeching tenderness. Good sense of interest,--this is not the way of will to men is the announcement with which gaining by a single hair-breadth on the at- his messengers come fraught to a guilty tachments of his heart. Such a way may world; and, since the moment in which it force, or it may terrify, but it never, never burst upon mortal ears from the peaceful can endear; and after all the threaten-canopy of heaven, may the ministers of ing array of such an influence as this, is salvation take it up, and go round with it brought to bear upon man, there is not one among all the tribes and individuals of the particle of service it can extort from him, species. Such is the real aspect of God tobut what is all rendered in the spirit of a wards you. He cannot bear that his alienpainful and reluctant bondage. Now, this ated children should be finally and everis not the service which prepares for hea- lastingly away from him. He feels for you ven. This is not the service which assimi- all the longing of a parent bereaved of his lates men to angels. This is not the obe- offspring. To woo you back again unto dience of those glorified spirits, whose every himself, he scatters among you the largest affection harmonizes with their every per- and the most liberal assurances, and with a formance; and the very essence of whose tone of imploring tenderness, does he say piety consists of delight in God, and the to one and all of you, “Turn ye, turn ye, love they bear to him. To bring up man why will you die?" He has no pleasure to such an obedience as this, his heart be- in your death. He does not wish to glorify hooved to be approached in a peculiar himself by the destruction of any one of way; and no such way is to be found, but you. “ Look to me all ye ends of the earth, within the limits of the Christian revela- and be saved,” is the wide and the generous tion. There alone you see God, without announcement, by which he would recal, injury to his other attributes, plying the from the very outermost limits of his sinful heart of man with the irresistible argument creation, the most worthless and polluted of kindness. There alone do you see the of those who have wandered away from great Lord of heaven and of earth, setting him. Now give us a man who perceives, himself forth to the most worthless and the with the eye of his mind, the reality of all most wandering of his children,-putting this, and you give us a man in possession forth his own hand to the work of healing of the principle of faith. Give us a man the breach which sin had made between in possession of this faith ; and his heart, them,-telling him that his word could not shielded, as it were, against the terrors of a be set aside, and his threatenings could not menacing Deity, is softened and subdued, be mocked, and his justice could not be ) and resigns its every affection at the mov

[merged small][ocr errors]

ing spectacle of a beseeching Deity; and shot its arrows, and they dropped ineffectual
thus it is that faith manifests the attribute from that citadel of the human affections,
which the Bible assigns to it, of working by which stood proof against the impression
love. Give us a man in possession of this of every one of them, when wrath mus-
love; and animated as he is, with the living tered up its appalling severities, and filled
principle of that obedience, where the will that bosom with despair which it could not
ing and delighted consent of the inner man fill with the warmth of a confiding attach-
goes along with the performance of the ment, then the kindness of an inviting God
outer man, his love manifests the attribute was brought to bear on the heart of man,
which the Bible assigns to it, when it says, and got an opening through all its myste-
* This is the love of God, that ye keep his rious avenues. Goodness did what the na-
commandments.” And thus it is, amid the kedness of power could not do. It found
fruitlessness of every other expedient, when its way through all the intricacies of the
power threatened to crush the heart which human constitution, and there, depositing the
it could not soften;-when authority lifted right principle of repentance, did it establish
its voice, and laid on man an enactment of the alone effectual security for the right pur-
love which it could not carry,-when terror poses, and the right fruits of repentance.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

SERMON XV. : . ' The Evils of false Security. " They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying Peace, Peace ; when there

. is no peace.”—Jeremiah vi. 14.***

We must all have remarked, on what a state of restlessness; and therefore it is, slight and passing consideration people will however seldom they are visited with any dispose of a question which relates to the ihought about eternity, and however gently interest of their eternity; and how strikingly this thought touches them, and however this stands contrasted with the very deep, quickly it passes away, to be replaced by and earnest, and long sustained attention, some of the more urgent vanities and interwhich they bestow on a question which re- ests of time, yet, with most men, there is lates to their interest, or their fortune, in something. like an actual making up of their this world. Ere they embark, for example, minds, on this awfully important subject. on an enterprise of trade, they will look at There is a settlement they have come to all the sides, and all the possibilities of the about it, which, generally speaking, serves speculation; and every power of thought them to the end of their days;-and on the within them, will be put io its busiest exer- strength of which, there are many who can cise, and they will enter upon it with much hush within them every alarm of conscience, fearfulness, and they will feel an anxious and repel from without them, the whole concern in every step, and every new evo- force of a preacher's demonstration, and all huion of such an undertaking Compare that power of disquietude which lies in his this with the very loose and summary way faithful and impressive warnings. in which they make up their minds about We speak in reference to a very numethe chance of happiness in another world. rous set of individuals, among the upper See at how easy a rate they will be satisfied and middling classes of society. There is a with some maxim of security, the utterance class of what may be called slender and senof which serves as a bar against all further timental religionists, who do profess a reprosecution of the subject. Behold the use verence for the matter, and maintain many they make of some hastily assumed prin- of its outward decencies, and are visited ciple in religion,-not for the purpose of with occasional thoughts, and occasional fastening their minds upon it, but for the feelings of tenderness about death, and duty, purpose, in fact, of hurrying their minds and eternity, and would be shocked at the away from it. For it must be observed of utterance of an infidel opinion; and with the people to whom we allude, that, in spite all these symptoms of a religious inclinaof all their thoughtlessness about the affairs tion about them, have their minds very comof the soul, they are not altogether without fortably made up, and altogether free from some opinion on the matter; and in which any apprehension, either of present wrath opinion there generally is comprised all the or of coming vengeance. Now, on examintheology of which they are possessed. With-ing the ground of their tranquillity, we are out some such opinion, even the most re- at a loss to detect a single ingredient of that gardless of men might feel themselves in a peace and joy in believing, which we read

« AnteriorContinuar »