Imágenes de páginas

ping one of these pursuits in any way else, tics, another affection has been wrought but by stimulating to another. In attempt into his moral system, and he is now lorded ing to bring a worldly man, intent and bu- over by the love of power. There is not sied with the prosecution of his objects, to one of these transformations in which the a dead stand, you have not merely to en- heart is left without an object. Its desire counter the charm which he annexes to for one particular object may be conquered; these objects but you have to encounter but as to its desire for having some one the pleasure which he feels in the very object or other, this is unconquerable. Its prosecution of them. It is not enough, adhesion to that on which it has fastened then, that you dissipate the charm, by your the preference of its regards, cannot wilmoral, and eloquent, and affecting exposure lingly be overcome by the rending away of of its illusiveness. You must address to the a simple separation. It can be done only eye of his mind another object, with a by the application of something else, to charm powerful enough to dispossess the which it may feel the adhesion of a still first of its influence, and to engage him in stronger and more powerful preference, some other prosecution as full of interest, Such is the grasping tendency of the huand hope, and congenial activity, as the man heart, that it must have a something former. It is this which stamps an impo- to lay hold of-and which, if wrested away tency on all moral and pathetic declamation without the substitution of another some about the insignificance of the world. A thing in its place, would leave a void and a man will no more consent to the misery of vacancy as painful to the mind, as hunger being without an object, because that object is to the natural system. It may be disposis a trille, or of being without a pursuit, be- sessed of one object, or of any, but it cancause that pursuit terminates in some frivo- not be desolated of all. Let there be 2 lous or fugitive acquirement, than he will breathing and a sensitive heart, but without voluntarily submit himself to the torture, a liking and without affinity to any of the because that torture is to be of short dura- things that are around it, and in a state of tion. If to be without desire and without cheerless abandonment, it would be alive to exertion altogether, is a state of violence nothing but the burden of its own conand discomfort, then the present desire, sciousness, and feel it to be intolerable. It with its correspondent train of exertion, is would make no difference to its owner, not to be got rid of simply by destroying it. whether he dwelt in the midst of a gay and It must be by substituting another desire, goodly world, or placed afar beyond the and another line or habit of exertion in its outskirts of creation, he dwelt a solitary place--and the most effectual way of with unit in dark and unpeopled nothingness. drawing the mind from one object, is not The heart must have something to cling to, by turning it away upon desolate and un--and never, by its own voluntary consent, peopled vacancy--but by presenting to its will it so denude itself of all its attachments, regards another object still more alluring that there shall not be one remaining object

These remarks apply not merely to love that can draw or solicit it. considered in its state of desire for an ob- The misery of a heart thus bereft of all ject not yet obtained. They apply also to relish for that which wont to minister enlove considered in its state of indulgence, joyment, is strikingly exemplified in those, or placid gratification, with an object al- who, satiated with indulgence, have been ready in possession. It is seldom that any so belaboured, as it were, with the variety of our tastes are made to disappear by a and the poignancy of the pleasurable senmere process of natural extinction. At sations that they have experienced, that least, it is very seldom that this is done they are at length fatigued out of all ca through the instrumentality of reasoning. pacity for sensation whatever. The disease It may be done by excessive pampering of enmui is more frequent in the French but it is almost never done by the mere metropolis, where amusement is more exforce of mental determination. But what clusively the occupation of higher classes, cannot be thus destroyed, may be dispos- than it is in the British metropolis, where sessed--and one taste may be made to give the longings of the heart are more diversiway to another, and to lose its power en-fied by the resources of business and politirely as the reigning affection of the mind. tics. There are the votaries of fashion, It is thus, that the boy ceases, at length, to who, in this way, have at length become be the slave of his appetite, but it is because the victims of fashionable excess-in whom a manlier taste has now brought it into sub- the very multitude of their enjoyments, has ordination-and that the youth ceases to at last extinguished their power of enjoy. idolize pleasure, but it is because the idol ment--who, with the gratifications of art of wealth has become the stronger and got and nature at command, now look upon all ten the ascendency--and that even the love that is around them with an eye of tasteof money ceases to have the mastery over | lessness-who, plied with the delights ol the heart of many a thriving citizen, but it sense and of splendour even to weariness, is because drawn into the whirl of city poli-I and incapable of higher delights, have come 1. That



to the end of all their perfection, and like it bare of all its regards, and of all its pre-
Solomon of old, found it to be vanity and ferences, were a hard and hopeless under-
vexation. The man whose heart has thus taking--and it would appear as if.the alone
been turned into a desert, can vouch for the powerful engine of dispossession, were to
insupportable languor which must ensue, bring the mastery of another affection to
when one affection is thus plucked away bear upon it,
from the bosom, without another to replace We know not a more sweeping interdict
it. It is not necessary that a man receive upon the affections of Nature, than that
pain from any thing, in order to become which is delivered by the Apostle in the
miserable. It is barely enough that he looks verse before us. To bid a man into whom
with distaste to every thing—and in that there is not yet entered the great and
asylum which is the repository of minds ascendant influence of the principle of re-
out of joint, and where the organ of feeling generation, to bid him withdraw his love
as well as the organ of intellect, has been from all the things that are in the world, is
impaired, it is not in the cell of loud and to bid him give up all the affections that are
frantic outcries where you will meet with in his heart. The world is the all of a na-
the acme of mental suffering. But that is tural man. He has not a taste, nor a desire,
the individual who outpeers in wretched that points not to a something placed with-
ness all his fellows, who throughout the in the confines of its visible horizon. He
whole expanse of nature and society, meets loves nothing above it, and he cares for no-
not an object that has at all the power to thing beyond it; and to bid him love not
detain or to interest him; who neither in the world, is to pass a sentence of expulsion
earth beneath, nor in heaven above, knows on all the inmates of his bosom. To esti-
of a single charın to which his heart can mate the magnitude and the difficulty of
send forth one desirous or responding such a surrender, let us only think that it
movement; to whom the world, in his eye were just as arduous to prevail on him not
a vast and empty desolation, has left him to love wealth, which is but one of the
nothing but his own consciousness to feed things in the world, as to prevail on him
upon-dead to all that is without him, and to set wilful fire to his own property. This
alive to nothing but to the load of his own he might do with sore and painful reluc-
torpid and useless existence.

tance, if he saw that the salvation of his
It will now be seen, perhaps, why it is life hung upon it. But this he would do
that the heart keeps by its present affections willingly, if he saw that a new property of
with so much tenacity--when the attempt tenfold value was instantly to emerge from
is, to do them away by a mere process of the wreck of the old one. In this case there
extirpation. It will not consent to be so is something more than the mere displace-
desolated. The strong man, whose dwell- ment of an affection. There is the over-
ing-place is there, may be compelled to give bearing of one affection by another. But
way to another occupier-but unless ano-to desolate his heart of all love for the
ther stronger than he, has power to dispos- things of the world, without the substitu-
sess and to succeed him, he will keep his tion of any love in its place, were to him a
present lodgment inviolable. The heart process of as unnatural violence, as to de-
would revolt against its own emptiness. It stroy all the things he has in the world,
could not bear to be so left in a state of and give him nothing in their room. So
waste and cheerless insipidity. The moralist that, if to love not the world be indispensa-
who tries such a process of dispossession ble to one's Christianity, then the cruci-
as this upon the heart, is thwarted at every fixion of the old man is not too strong a
step by the recoil of its own mechanism. term to mark that transition in his history,
You have all heard that Nature abhors a when all old things are done away, and all
vacuum. Such at least is the nature of the things are become new.
heart, that though the room which is in it. We hope that by this time, you under-
may change one inmate for another, it can stand the impotency of a mere demonstra-
not be left void without the pain of most tion of this world's insignificance. Its sole
intolerable suffering. It is not enough then practical effect, is it had any, would be to
to argue the folly of an existing affection. leave the heart in a state which to every
It is not enough in the terms of a forcible heart is insupportable, and that is a mere
or an affecting demonstration, to make good state of nakedness and negation. You may
the evanescence of its object. It may not remember the fond and unbroken tenacity
even be enough to associate the threats and with which your heart has often rccurred
terrors of some coming vengeance, with the to pursuits, over the utter frivolity of which
indulgence of it. The heart may still re- it sighed and wept but yesterday. The
sist the every application, by obedience to arithmetic of your short-lived days, may
which it would finally be conducted to a on Sabbath make the clearest impression
state so much at war with all its appetites upon your understanding--and from liis
as that of downright inanition. So to tear fancied bed of death, may the preacher
away an affection from the heart, as to leave cause a voice to descend in rebuke and

mockery on all the pursuits of earthliness the seat of them unoccupied, would be to

and as he pictures before you the fleet- destroy the old character, and to substitue ing generations of men, with the absorbing no new character in its place. But when grave, whither all the joys and interests of they take their departure upon the ingress the world hasten to their sure and speedy of other visitors; when they resign their oblivion, may you, touched and solemnized sway to the power and the predominance by his argument, feel for a moment as if of new affections; when, abandoning the on the eve of a practical and permanent heart to solitude, they merely give place to emancipation from a scene of so much a successor who turns it into as busy a vanity. But the morrow comes, and the residence of desire, and interest, and exbusiness of the world, and the objects of pectation as before--there is nothing in all the world, and the moving forces of the this to thwart or to overbear any of the world come along with it--and the ma- laws of our sentient nature-and we see chinery of the heart, in virtue of which it how, in fullest accordance with the me must have something to grasp, or some-chanism of the heart, a great moral revoluthing to adhere to, brings it under a kind tion may be made to take place upon it. of moral necessity to be actuated just as This, we trust, will explain the operation before-and in uiter repulsion towards a of that charm which accompanies the effecstate so unkindly as that of being frozen tual preaching of the gospel. The love of out both of delight and of desire, does it God, and the love of the world, are two feel all the warmth and the urgency of its affections, not merely in a state of rivalwonted solicitations-nor in the habit and ship, but in a state of enmity-and that so history of the whole man, can we detect so irreconcilable, that they cannot dwell tomuch as one symptom of the new creature gether in the same bosom. We have al-So that the church, instead of being to ready affirmed how impossible it were for him a school of obedience, has been a mere the heart, by any innate elasticity of its sauntering place for the luxury of a pass- own, to cast the world away from it, and ing and theatrical emotion; and the preach- thus reduce itself to a wilderness. The ing which is mighty to compel the attend- heart is not so constituted, and the only ance of multitudes, which is mighty 10 still way to dispossess it of an old affection, is and to solemnize the hearers into a kind by the expulsive power of a new one. Noof tragic sensibility, which is mighty in the thing can exceed the magnitude of the replay of variety and vigour that it can keep quired change in a man's character-when up around the imagination, is not mighty to bidden as he is in the New Testament, to the pulling down of strong-holds. , love not the world; no, nor any of the

The love of the world cannot be expung- I things that are in the world for this so ed by a mere demonstration of the world's comprehends all that is dear to him in worthlessness. But may it not be supplant- existence, as to be equivalent to a comed by the love of that which is more wor- mand of self-annihilation. But the same thy ihan itself ? The heart cannot be pre-revelation which dictates so mighty an vailed upon to part with the world, by a obedience, places within our reach as simple act of resignation. But may not mighty an instrument of obedience. It the heart be prevailed upon to admit into brings for admittance, to the very door of its preference another, who shall subordi- our heart, an affection which, once seated nate the world, and bring it down from its upon its throne, will either subordinate wonted ascendency? If the throne which every previous inmate, or bid it away. Beis placed there, must have an occupier, and side the world, it places before the eye of the tyrant that now reigns has occupied it the mind, him who made the world, and wrongfully, he may not leave a bosom with this peculiarity, which is all its own which would rather detain him, than be that in the Gospel do we so behold God, lest in desolation. But may he not give as that we may love God. It is there, and way to the lawful sovereign, appcaring there only, where God stands revealed as with every charm that can secure his will an object of confidence to sinners-and ing admittance, and taking unto himself his where our desire after him is not chilled great power to subdue the moral nature of into apathy, by that barrier of human guilt man, and to reign over it? In a word, if which intercepts every approach that is

the way to disengage the heart from the not made to him through the appointed i positive love of one great and ascendent Mediator. It is the bringing in of this bet

object, is to fasten it in positive love to an- ter hope, whereby we draw nigh unto God other, then it is not by exposing the worth-| --and to live without hope, is to live withlessness of the former, but by addressing to out God, and if the heart be without God, the mental eye the worth and excellence of the world will then have all the ascendency. the latter, that all old things are to be done It is God apprehended by the believer as away, and all things are to become new. God in Christ, who alone can dispost"

To'obliterate all our present affections, by from this ascendency. It is when he stands simply expunging them, and so as to leave dismantled of the terrors which belong to te pas


ad ad ja nere


him as an offended lawgiver, and when we pose to the ready recognition of his hearers are enabled by faith, which is his own gift, the desires of worldliness—but with the to see his glory in the face of Jesus Christ, tidings of the gospel in commission, he and to hear his beseeching voice, as it pro- may wield the only engine that can extirtests good will to men, and entreats the pate them. He cannot do what some have return of all who will to a full pardon, and done, when, as if by the hand of a maa gracious acceptance-it is then, that a gician, they have brought out to view, love paramount to the love of the world, from the hidden recesses of our nature, the and at length expulsive of it, first arises in foibles and lurking appctites which belong the regenerating bosom. It is when re- to it. But he has a truth in his possession, leased from the spirit of bondage, with which into whatever heart it enters, will, which love cannot dwell, and when admit- like the rod of Aaron, swallow up them all ted into the number of God's children, and unqualified as he may be, to describe through the faith that is in Christ Jesus, the old man in all the nicer shading of his the spirit of adoption is poured upon us-it natural and constitutional varieties, with is then that the heart, brought under the him is deposited that ascendent influence unmastery of one great and predominant af- der which the leading tastes and tendencies section, is delivered from the tyranny of of the old man are destroyed, and he becomes its former desires, and in the only way in a new creature in Jesus Christ our Lord. which deliverance is possible. And that Let us not cease, then, to ply the only faith which is revealed to us from heaven, instrument of powerful and positive operaas indispensable to a sinner's justification tion, to do away from you the love of the in the sight of God, is also the instrument world. Let us try every legitimate method of the greatest of all moral and spiritual of finding access to your hearts for the love achievements on a nature dead to the in- of him who is greater than the world. For fluence, and beyond the reach of every this purpose, let us, if possible, clear away other application.

that shroud of unbelief which so hides and Thus may we come to perceive what it darkens the face of the Deity. Let us inis that makes the most effective kind of sist on his claims to your affection-and preaching. It is not enough to hold out whether in the shape of gratitude, or in the to the world's eye the mirror of its own shape of esteem, let us never cease to affirm, imperfections. It is not enough to come that in the whole of that wondrous econoforth with a demonstration, however pa- my, the purpose of which is to reclaim a thetic, of the evanescent character of all its sinful world unto himself-he, the God of enjoyments. It is not enough to travel love, so sets himself forth in characters of the walk of experience along with you, endearment, that nought but faith, and and speak to your own conscience, and nought but understanding, are wanting, on vour own recollection of the deceitfulness your part, to call forth the love of your of the heart, and the deceitfulness of all hearts back again. that the heart is set upon. There is many a And here let me advert to the incredulity bearer of the Gospel message, who has not of a worldly man; when he brings his own shrewdness of natural discernment enough, sound and secular experience to bear upon and who has not power of characteristic de- the high doctrines of Christianity-when scription enough, and who has not the talent he looks on regeneration as a thing imposof moral delineation enough, to present you sible—when feeling as he does, the obstiwith a vivid and faithful sketch of the ex- nacies of his own heart on the side of isting follies of society. But that very things present, and casting an intelligent corruption which he has not the faculty of eye, much exercised perhaps in the obserrepresenting in its visible details, he may | vation of human life, on the equal obstinapractically be the instrument of eradicating cies of all who are around him, he proin its principle. Let him be but a faithfulnounces this whole matter about the cruciexpounder of the gospel testimony.-Un-fixion of the old man, and the resurrection able as he may be to apply a descriptive of a new man in his place, to be in downhand to the character of the present world, right opposition to all that is known and let him but report with accuracy the mat-witnessed of the real nature of humanity. ter which revelation has brought to him. We think that we have seen such men, from a distant world, unskilled as he is in who, firmly trenched in their own vigorous the work of so anatomizing the heart, as and homebred sagacity, and shrewdly rewith the power of a novelist to create a gardful of all that passes before them graphical or impressive exhibition of the through the week, and upon the scenes of worthlessness of its many affections—let ordinary business, look on that transition him only deal in those mysteries of peculiar of the heart by which it gradually dies doctrine, on which the best of novelists unto time, and awakens in all the life of a have thrown the wantonness of their deri- | new-felt and ever-growing desire towards sion. He may not be able, with the eye God, as a mere Sabbath speculation; and of shrewd and satirical observation, to ex- who thus, with all their attention engrossed

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


upon the concerns of earthliness, continue giving him up unto the death for us all. They
unmoved, to the end of their days, amongst do not see the sufficiency of the atonement,
the feelings, and the appetites, and the pur- or of the sufferings that were endured by
suits of earthliness. If the thought of death, him who bore the burden that sinners
and another state of being after it, comes should have borne. They do not see the
across them at all, it is not with a change blended holiness and compassion of the
so radical as that of being born again, that Godhead, in that he passed by the trans-
they ever connect the idea of preparation. gressions of his creatures, yet could not
They have some vague conception of its pass them by without an expiation. It is a
being quite enough that they acquit them- mystery to them, how a man should pass
selves in some decent and tolerable way to the state of godliness from a state of na-
of their relative obligations; and that, upon ture-but had they only a believing view
the strength of some such social and do- of God manifest in the flesh, this would re-
mestic moralities as are often realized by solve for them the whole mystery of godli-
him in whose heart the love of God has ness. As it is, they cannot get quit of
never entered, they will be transplanted in their old affections, because they are out
safety from this world, where God is the of sight from all those truths which have
Being with whom it may almost be said, influence to raise a new one. They are like
that they have had nothing to do, to that the children of Israel in the land of Egypt,
world where God is the Being with whom when required to make bricks without straw
they will have mainly and immediately to they cannot love God, while they want
do throughout all eternity. They admit all the only food which can aliment this affection
that is said of the utter vanity of time, when in a sinner's bosom-and however great
taken up with as a resting place. But they their errors may be both in resisting the de-
resist every application made upon the mands of the Gospel as impracticable, and
heart of man, with the view of so shifting in rejecting the doctrines of the Gospel as
its tendencies, that it shall not henceforth inadmissible, yet there is not a spiritual
find in the interests of time, all its rest and man (and it is the prerogative of him who
all its refreshment. They, in fact, regard is spiritual to judge all men) who will not
such an attempt as an enterprise that is al-perceive that there is a consistency in these
together aerial-and with a tone of secular | errors,
wisdom, caught from the familiarities of But if there be a consistency in the errors,
every-day experience, do they see a vision- ( in like manner is there a consistency in the
ary character in all that is said of setting truths which are opposite to them. The
our affections on the things that are above; man who believes in the peculiar doctrines,
and of walking by faith; and of keeping will readily bow to the peculiar demands
our hearts in such a love of God as shall of Christianity. When he is told to love
shut out from them the love of the world ; 1 God supremely; this may startle another,
and of having no confidence in the flesh; but it will not startle him to whom God has
and of so renouncing earthly things as to {been revealed in peace, and in pardon, and
have our conversation in heaven.

in all the freeness of an offered reconciliaNow, it is altogether worthy of being re- tion. When told to shut out the world from marked of those men who thus disrelish his heart, this may be impossible with him spiritual Christianity, and, in fact, deemn it, who has nothing to replace it but not iman impracticable acquirement, how much possible with him, who has found in God of a piece their incredulity abont the de-a sure and a satisfying portion. When told mands of Christianity, and their incredulity to withdraw his affections from the things about the doctrines of Christianity, are with that are beneath, this were laying an order one another. No wonder that they feel the of self-extinction upon the man, who knows work of the New Testament to be beyond not another quarter in the whole sphere of their strength, so long as they hold the his contemplation, to which he could transwords of the New Testament to be beneath fer them--but it were not grievous to him their attention. Neither they nor any one whose view has been opened up to the loveelse can dispossess the heart of an old af- liness and glory of the things that are fection, but by the impulsive power of a new above, and can there find, for every feeling one-and, if that new affection be the love of his soul, a most ample and delighted ocof God, neither they nor any one else can cupation. When told to look not to the be made to entertain it, but on such a re-things that are seen and temporal, this were presentation of the Deity, as shall draw the blotting out the light of all that is visible heart of the sinner towards him. Now from the prospect of him in whose eye it is just their unbelief which screens there is a wall of partition between guilty from the discernment of their minds this nature and the joys of eternity--but he representation. They do not see the love who believes that Christ hath broken down of God in sending his Son into the world. this wall, finds a gathering radiance upon They do not see the expression of his ten- his soul, as he looks onwards in faith derness to men, in sparing him not, but I the things that are unseen and eternal.

« AnteriorContinuar »