Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

stowed the charity. But, in heaven's eye, days, the diversities of wealth and station the poor man who waived it away from will at length be equalized. On looking forhimself to another is the more illustrious ward to the time when kings shall be the philanthropist of the two. The one gave it nursing fathers, and queens the nursing out of his affluence. The other gave it out mothers of our church, we think that we of the sweat of his brow. He rose up early, can behold the perspective of as varied a and sat up late, that he might have it to be distribution of place and property as before. stow on a poorer than himself; and without In the pilgrimage of life, there will still be once stretching forth a giver's hand to the the moving procession of the few charioted necessities of his brethren, still is it possi- in splendour on the highway, and the many ble, that by him, and such as him, may the pacing by their side along the line of the main burden of this world's benevolence be same journey. There will, perhaps, be a borne.

somewhat more elevated footpath for the It need scarcely be remarked, that, with-crowd-there will be an air of greater comout supposing the offer of any sum made to fort and sufficiency amongst them; and the a poor man who is generous in his desires, respectability of evident worth and goodness he, by simply keeping himself back from will sit upon the countenance of this general the distributions of charity, fulfils all the population. But, bating these, we look for high functions which we have now ascribed no great change in the external aspect of to him. He leaves the charitable fund un society. It will only be a moral and a spitouched for all that distress which is more ritual change. Kings will retain their scepclamorous than his own; and we, therefore, tres, and nobles their coronets; but, as they look, not to the original givers of the mo- float in magnificence along, will they look ney, but to those who line, as it were, the with benignant feeling on the humble way. margin of pauperism, and yet firmly refuse farers; and the honest salutations of regard to enter it--we look upon them as the pre- and reverence will arise to them back again; eminent benefactors of society, who narrow, and, should any weary passenger be ready as it were, by a wall of defence, the ground to sink unfriended on his career, will he, at of human dependence, and are, in fact, the one time, be borne onwards by his fellows guides and the guardians of all that opu- on the pathway, and, at another, will a lence can bestow.

shower of beneficence be made to descend Thus it is, that when Christianity becomes from the crested equipage that overtakes universal, the doings of the one party, and the him. It is Utopianism to think, that in the desires of the other, will meet and overpass. ages of our world which are yet to come, The poor will wish for no more than the the outward distinctions of life will not all rich will be delighted to bestow; and the be upholden. But it is not Utopianism, it rule of our text, which every real Christian is Prophecy to aver, that the breath of a at present finds so practicable, will, when new spirit will go abroad over the great facarried over the face of society, bind all the mily of mankind--So, that while, to the end members of it into one consenting brother of time, there shall be the high and the low hood. The duty of doing good to others in every passing generation, will the charity will then coalesce with that counterpart of kindred feelings, and of a common unduty which regulates our desires of good derstanding, create a fellowship between from them; and the work of benevolence them on their way, till they reach that heawill, at length, be prosecuted without that ven where human love shall be perfected, alloy of rapacity on the one hand, and dis, and all human greatness is unknown. trust on the other, which serves so much In various places in the New Testament, to fester and disturb the whole of this minis- do we see the checks of spirit and delicacy tration. To complete this adjustment, it is laid upon all extravagant desires. Our text, in every way as necessary to lay all the in- while it enjoins the performance of good to cumbent moralities on those who ask, as on others, up to the full measure of your dethose who confer; and never till the whole sires of good from them, equally enjoins the text, which comprehends the wishes of man keeping down of these desires to the meaas well as his actions, wield its entire au-sure of your performances. If Christian thority over the species, will the disgusts dispensers had only to do with Christian and the prejudices, which form such a bar- recipients, the whole work of benevolence rier between the ranks of human life, be ef- would be with ease and harmony carried sectually done away. It is not by the abo- on. All that was unavoidable--all that lition of rank, but by assigning to each rank came from the hand of Providence-all its duties, that peace, and friendship, and that was laid upon our suffering brethren order, will at length be firmly established by the unlooked-for visitations of accident in our world. It is by the force of princi- or disease-all that pain and misfortune, ple, and not by the force of some great po- which necessarily attaches to the constitulitical overthrow, that a consummation so tion of the species all this the text most delightful is to be attained. We have no amply provides for; and all this a Christian conception whatever, that, even in millennial society would be delighted to stretch forth

their means for the purpose of alleviating (not of his poverty all the time that he lived or doing away.

upon earth. We speak not of those years We should not have dwelt so long upon when, a houseless wanderer in an unthankthis lesson, were it not for the essential ful world, he had not where to lay his head. Christian principle that is involved in it. We speak ņot of the meek and uncomplainThe morality of the gospel is not more ing sufferance with which he met the many strenuous on the side of the duty of giving ills that oppressed the tenor of his mortal of this world's goods when it is needed, than existence. But we speak of that awful it is against the desire of receiving when it burden which crushed and overwhelmed is not needed. It is more blessed to give its termination. We speak of that season than to receive, and therefore less blessed to of the hour and the power of darkness, when receive than to give. For the enforcement it pleased the Lord to bruise him, and to of this principle among the poorer brethren, make his soul an offering for sin. To estidid Paul give up a vast portion of his apos mate aright the endurance of him who tolical time and labour; and that he might himself bore our infirniities, would we ask be an ensample to the flock of working with of any individual to recollect some deep his own hands, rather than be burdensome, and awful period of abandonment in his did he set himself down to the occupation own history-when that countenance which of a tent-maker. That lesson is surely wor- at one time beamed and brightened upon thy of engrossing one sermon of an unin- him from above, was mantled in thickest spired teacher, for the sake of which an darkness-when the iron of remorse enterinspired Apostle of the Gentiles engrossed ) ed into his soul-and, laid on a bed of toras much time as would have admitted the ture, he was made to behold the evil of sin, preparation and the delivery of many ser- and to taste of its bitterness. Let him look mons. But there is no more striking indi- back, if he can, on this conflict of many cation of the whole spirit and character of agitations, and then figure the whole of this the gospel in this matter, than the examplemental wretchedness to be borne off by of him who is the author of it-and of whom the ministers of vengeance into hell, and we read these affecting words, that he came stretched out unto eternity. And is, on the into the world not to be ministered unto, great day of expiation, a full atonement was but to minister. It is a righteous thing rendered, and all that should have fallen in him who has of this world's goods, to upon us was placed upon the head of the minister to the necessities of others; but sacrifice-let him hence compute the weight it is a still higher attainment of righteous and the awfulness of those sorrows which ness in him who has nothing but the daily | were carried by him on whom the chastiseearnings of his daily work to depend upon, ment of our peace was laid, and who poured 80 to manage and to strive that he shall not out his soul unto the death for us. If ever need to be ministered unto. Christianity a sinner, under such a visitation, shall again overlooks no part of human conduct; and emerge into peace and joy in believingby providing for this in particular, does it, I if he ever shall again find his way to that in fact, overtake, and that with a precept fountain which is opened in the house of of utmost importance, the habit and condi- Judah-if he shall recover once more that tion of a very extended class in human so- sunshine of the soul, which, on the days ciety. And never does the gospel so exhibit that are past, disclosed to him the beauties its adaptation to our species-and never does of holiness here, and the glories of heaven virtue stand in such characters of strength hereafter-if ever he shall hear with effect, and sacredness before us--as when impreg- in this world, that voice from the mercynated with the evangelical spirit and urged seat, which still proclaims a welcome to the by evangelical motives, it takes its most di-chief of sinners, and beckons him afresh to rect sanction from the life and doings of the reconciliation--0! how gladly then should Saviour.

he bear throughout the remainder of his And he who feels as he ought, will bear days, the whole authority of the Lord who with cheerfulness all that the Saviour pre- | bought him; and bind forever to his own scribes, when he thinks how mnch it is for person that yoke of the Saviour which is him that the Saviour has borne. We speak easy, and that burden which is light.

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

DISCOURSE VI.

On the Dissipation of large Cities.

[ocr errors]

“Let no man deceive you with vain words ; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the

children of disobedience."--Ephesians v. 6.

THERE is one obvious respect in which Here, then, is a point, in which the general the standard of morality amongst men, dif- morality of the world is at utter and irrefers from that pure and universal standard concilable variance with the law of God. which God hath set up for the obedience Here is a case, in which the voice that cometh of his subjects. Men will not demand very forth from the tribunal of public opinion urgently of each other, that, which does pronounces one thing, and the voice that not very nearly, or very immediately, af. cometh forth from the sanctuary of God fect their own personal and particular in- pronounces another. When there is an terest. To the violations of justice, or agreement between these two voices, the truth, or humanity, they will be abundant-l principle on which obedience is rendered to ly sensitive, because these offer a most vi- their joint and concurring authority, may sible and quickly felt encroachment on be altogether equivocal; and, with relithis interest. And thus it is, that the social gious and irreligious men, you may obvirtues, even without any direct sanction serve an equal exhibition of all the equifrom God at all, will ever draw a certain ties, and all the civilities of life. But when portion of respect and reverence around there is a discrepancy between these two them; and that a loud testimony of abhor- voices or when the one attaches a crimirence may often be heard from the mouths nality to certain habits of conduct, and is of ungodly men, against all such vices as not at all seconded by the testimony of may be classed under the general designa- the other-then do we escape the constition of vices of dishonesty.

sion of mingled motives, and mingled auNow, the same thing does not hold true thorities. The character of the two parties of another class of vices, which may be emerges out of the ambiguity which intermed the vices of dissipation. These do volved it. The law of God points, it must not touch, in so visible or direct a manner, be allowed, as forcible an anathema against on the security of what man possesses, and the man of dishonesty, as against the man of what man has the greatest value for. I of dissipation. But the chief burden of the But man is a selfish being, and therefore it world's anathema is laid on the head of is, that the ingredient of selfishness gives a the former; and therefore it is, that, on the keenness to his estimation of the evil and latter ground, we meet with more discriof the enormity of the former vices, which minative tests of principle, and gather more is scarcely felt at all in any estimation he satisfying materials for the question of may form of the latter vices. It is very | who is on the side of the Lord of hosts, and true, at the same time, that if one were to who is against him ? compute the whole amount of the mischief The passage we have now submitted to they bring upon society, it would be found you, looks hard on the votaries of dissithai the profligacies of mere dissipation gol pation. It is like eternal truth, lifting up very far to break up the peace, and enjoy-lits own proclamation, and causing it to be ment, and even the relative virtues of the heard amid the errors and the delusions world; and that, if these profligacies were of a thoughtless world. It is like the Deity reformed, it would work a mighty aug- himself, looking forth, as he did, from a mentation on the temporal good both of cloud, on the Egyptians of old, and trouindividuals and families. But the con-bling the souls of those who are lovers of nexion between sobriety of character, and pleasure, more than lovers of God. It is the happiness of the community, is not so like the voice of heaven, crying down the apparent, because it is more remote than voice of human society, and sending forth the connexion which obtains between in- a note of alarm amongst its giddy generategrity of character, and the happiness of tions. It is like the unrolling of a portion the community; and man being not only of that book of higher jurisprudence, out a selfish, but a shortsighted being, it fol- of which we shall be judged on the day of lows, that while the voice of execration may our coming account, and setting before our be distinctly heard against every instance of eyes an enactment, which, if we disregard it, fraud or of injustice, instances of licentious- will turn that day into the day of our comness may occur on every side of us, and being condemnation. The words of man are reported on the one hand with the utmost adverted to in this solemn proclamation of levity, and be listened to, on the other, with God, against all unlawful and all unhalthe most entire and complacent toleration. I lowed enjoyments, and they are called

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

words of vanity. He sets aside the au-This keeping all the rest. It may be the only thority of human opinion altogether; and, point on which the character of his loyalty on an irrevocable record, has he stamped is really brought to the trial. All his consuch an assertion of the authority that be-formities to the law of God might have been longeth to himself only, as serves to the rendered, because they thwarted not his end of time for an enduring memorial of own inclination; and, therefore, would have his will; and as commits the truth of the been rendered though there had been no Lawgiver to the execution of a sentence law at all. The single infraction may have of wrath against all whose souls are taken place in the only case where there hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. There was a real competition between the will of is, in fact, a peculiar deceitfulness in the the creature, and the will of the Creator; matter before us; and, in this verse, are and the event proves to which of the two we warned against it-"Let no man de- the right of superiority is awarded. Alleceive you with vain words; for, because giance to God in truth is but one principle, of these things, the wrath of God cometh / and may be described by one short and on the children of disobedience."

summary expression: and one act of disIn the preceding verse, there is such an obedience may involve in it such a total surenumeration as serves to explain what the render of the principle, as goes to dethrone things are which are alluded to in the text; God altogether from the supremacy which and it is such an enumeration, you should belongs to him. So that the account beremark, as goes to fasten the whole terror, tween a creature and the Creator is not like and the whole threat, of the coming ven- an account made up of many items, where geance-not on the man who combines in the expunging of one item would only make his own person all the characters of ini- one small and fractional deduction from the quity which are specified, but on the man whole sum of obedience. If you reserve who realizes any one of these characters. but a single item from this account, and anIt is not, you will observe, the conjunction other makes a principle of completing and and, but the conjunction or, which is in- rendering up the whole of it, then your chaterposed between them. It is not as if we racter varies from his not by a slight shade said, that the man who is dishonest, and of difference, but stands contrasted with it licentious, and covetous, and unfeeling, in direct and diametric opposition. We shall not inherit the kingdom of God—but perceive, that, while with him the will of the man who is either dishonest, or licen- God has the mastery over all his inclinatious, or covetous, or unfeeling. On the tions, with you there is, at least, one inclisingle and exclusive possession of any one nation which has the mastery over God; of these attributes, will God deal with you that while in his bosom there exists a single as with an enemy. The plea, that we are and subordinating principle of allegiance to a little thoughtless, but we have a good the law, in yours there exists another prinheart, is conclusively cut asunder by this ciple, which, on the coming round of a fit portion of the law and of the testimony. opportunity, developes itself in an act of And in a corresponding passage, in the transgression; that, while with him God ninth verse of the sixth chapter of Paul's may be said to walk and to dwell in him, first epistle to the Corinthians, the same with you there is an evil visitant, who has peculiarity is observed in the enumeration taken up his abode in your heart, and lodges of those who shall be excluded from God's | there either in a state of dormancy or of favour, and have the burden of God's / action, according to circumstances; that. wrath laid on them through eternity. It is while with him the purpose is honestly not the man who combines all the deformi- proceeded on, of doing nothing which God ties of character which are there specified, I disapproves, with you there is a purpose but the man who realizes any one of the not only different, but opposite, of doing separate deformities. Some of them are something which he disapproves. On this the vices of dishonesty, others of them are single difference is suspended not a question the vices of dissipation; and, as if aware of degree, but a question of kind." There of a deceitfulness from this cause, he, after are presented to us not two hues of the telling us that the unrighteous shall not in- same colour, but two colours, just as broadly herit the kingdom of God, bids us not be contrasted with each other as light and deceived for that neither the licentious, | darkness. And such is the state of the alnor the abominable, nor thieves, nor covet-ternative between a partial and an unreons, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor ex- served obedience, that while God imperatortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of tively claims the one as his due, he looks God.

on the other as an expression of defiance He who keepeth the whole law, but of- | against him, and against his sovereignty. fendeth in one point, says the Apostle James, It is the very same in civil government. is guilty of all. The truth is, that his dis- A man renders himself an outcast by one obedience on this one point may be more de- act of disobedience. He does not need to cisive of the state of his loyalty to God, than I accumulate upon himself the guilt of all the

rten en

hat

Du

higher atrocities in crime, ere he forseits his , ration, but would destroy it altogether. life to the injured laws of his country. By The man who has entered on a course of the perpetration of any of them is the whole Christian discipleship, carries on an unvengeance of the state brought to bear upon sparing and universal war with all iniquity. his person, and sentence of death is pro- He has chosen Christ for his alone master, nounced on a single murder, or forgery, or and he struggles against the ascendency of act of violent depredation.

every other. It is his sustained and habitual And let us ask you just to reflect on the exertion in following after him to forsake tone and spirit of that man towards his God, all; so that if his performances were as who would palliate, for example, the vices complete as his endeavour, you would not of dissipation to which he is addicted, by merely see a conformity to some of the alleging his utter exemption from the vices precepts, but a conformity to the whole law of dishonesty, to which he is not addicted. of God. At all events, the endeavour is an Just think of the real disposition and cha- honest one, and so far successful, that sin racter of his soul, who can say, “I will has not the dominion; and sure we are, please God, but only when, in so doing, I that, in such a state of things, the vices of also please myself; or I will do homage to dissipation can have no existence. These his law, but just in those instances by which vices can be more effectually shunned, and I honour the rights, and fulfil the expecta- more effectually surmounted, for example, tions, of society; or I will be decided by than the infirmities of an unhappy temper. his opinion of the right and the wrong, but so that, if dissipation still attaches to the just when the opinion of my neighbourhood character, and appears in the conduct of any lends its powerful and effective confirma- individual, we know not a more decisive tion. But in other cases, when the matter evidence of the state of that individual as is reduced to a bare question between man being one of the many who crowd the broad and God, when he is the single party I have way that leadeth to destruction. We look to do with, when his will and his wrath are no further to make out our estimate of his the only elements which enter into the de- present condition as being that of a rebel, liberation, when judgment, and eternity, and of his future prospect as being that of and the voice of him who speaketh from spending an eternity in hell. There is no heaven are the only considerations at issue- halting between two opinions in this matter. then do I feel myself at greater liberty, and The man who enters a career of dissipation I shall take my own way, and walk in the throws down the gauntlet of defiance to his counsel of mine own heart, and after the God. The man who persists in this career sight of my own eyes." 0! be assured, keeps on the ground of hostility against that when all this is laid bare on the day of him. reckoning, and the discerner of the heart Let us now endeavour to trace the origin, pronounces upon it, and such a sentence is the progress, and the effects of a life of disto be given, as will make it manifest to the sipation. consciences of all assembled, that true and First, then, it may be said of a very great righteous are the judgments of God-there number of young men, on their entrance is many a creditable man who has passed into the business of the world, that they have through the world with the plaudits and not been enough fortified against ils sethe testimonies of all his fellows, and with- ducing influences by their previous educaout one other flaw upon his reputation but |tion at home. Generally speaking, they the very slender one of certain harmless come out from the habitation of their pafojbles, and certain good-humoured pecu- rents unarmed and unprepared for the conliarities, who when brought to the bar of test which awaits them. If the spirit of account, will stand convicted there of having this world's morality reign in their own famade a divinity of his own will, and spent mily, then it cannot be, that their introduchis days in practical and habitual atheism. tion into a more public scene of life will be

And this argument is not at all affected very strictly guarded against those vices on by the actual state of sinfulness and infirmity which the world placidly smiles, or at least into which we have fallen. It is true, even regards with silent toleration. They may of saints on earth, that they commit sin. have been told, in early boyhood, of the inBut to be overtaken in a fault is one thing; famy of a lie. They may have had the virto commit that fault with the deliberate con- tues of punctuality, and of economy, and sent of the mind is another. There is in the of regular attention to business, pressed upon bosom of every true Christian a strenuous their observation. They may have heard a principle of resistance to sin, and it belongs uniform testimony on the side of good beto the very essence of the principle that it haviour, up to the standard of such current is resistance to all sin. It admits of no vo- moralities as obtain in their neighbourhood; luntary indulgence to one sin more than and this, we are ready to admit, may into another. Such an indulgence would not clude in it a testimony against all such exonly change the character of what may be cesses of dissipation as would unfit them called the elementary principle of regene-l for the prosecution of this world's interests.

« AnteriorContinuar »