Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

.

tion of a most righteous and unmitigable shape of proofs or of remonstrances on the
law, And thus, in the day of reckoning, will side of Christianity ? Was there a volun-
this verse, in its most plain and obvious tary darkening, on their part, of the light
literality, be so accomplished on the hosts of truth when it began to dawn upon their
who are assembled round the judgment- souls, and threatened to carry their convic-
seat--that all who are free from this sin tions away from them? Was there a habit
shall have their every other sin forgiven, of fetching up, at all hazards, every argu-
just because they have obeyed the Gospel ment, however false and however blas-
in embracing the overtures of forgiveness- phemous it may be, on which they might
and that all who, on that day, shall find no rest the measures of a proud and interested
escape, and no forgiveness, have this doom party, and thus might give the shape and
laid upon them, just because each, without the colour of plausibility to that systematic

exception, has incurred the sin to which no opposition they had entered on?
· forgiveness is awarded, by the very act of It strikes us, that the whole history of
neglecting the great salvation,

the Pharisees in the New Testament, bolds The sin, then, against the Holy Ghost, so them out in the very attitude of mind which far from conferring any rare distinction of we have now described to you. And think wickedness on him who is guilty of it, is, in you not that in the work of maintaining fact, the sin of all who, living under the this attitude against the warfare of all that dispensation of the Gospel, have, by their moral and miraculous argument which was rejection of it, made it the savour of death. brought to bear upon them, they never unto death." It is a sin which can be smothered the instigations of conscience, charged upon every man who has put the and through it rebelled against that Spirit, overtures of forgiveness away from him. It who conveyed, by this organ of the inner is a sin which if, on the great day of ex- .man, the whispers of his still but impresamination, you are found to be free from, sive voice? “Which of you convinceth me will argue your acceptance of the Gospel, of sin," says the Saviour, "and if I tell you in virtue of which its forgiveness is made the truth, why do you not believe me ?” Did sure to you. And it is a sin, which, if found conscience never tell them how impossible on that day to adhere to you, will argue it was that Jesus of Nazareth could lie ? your final refusal of this same Gospel, in Did not the words of him who spake as virtue of which your forgiveness is impossi- never man spake, bear upon them the imble-because you are out of the only way I press of truth as well as of dignity? Is given under heaven whereby men can be there not such a thing as the suspicious assaved. So that this sin, looked upon by pect of an impostor, and is there not also many as the sin of one particular age; or, if such a thing as the open, the declared, the possible to realize it in the present day, as ingenuous, and altogether overbearing asonly to be met with in a few solitary in- pect of integrity--and is it not conceivable, stances of enormous and unexpiable trans-how, in this way, the words of the Saviour gression, is the very sin upon which may might have carried such a moral evidence be made to turn the condemnation and along with them, as to stamp an unquesthe ruin of the existing majority of our tionable character on all his attestations ? species.

Now, was there no resisting of the Holy • Before we are done with this subject, Spirit in the act of shutting the eye of the there is one question that remains to be judgment against the whole weight and audisposed of. Does it appear, from the his-thority of this character? In the person of torical circumstances of the case, that that Jesus of Nazareth, the men of that day were conduct of the Pharisees which called forth honoured with the singular privilege of befrom our Saviour the denunciation of the holding God manifest in the flesh--of seeing text, bears a resemblance to the account we all the graces of the Holy Spirit substanhave given of the sin against the Holy |tiated, without one taint of imperfection, on Ghost, as exemplified by the men of the the life and character of one who wore the present generation? In their rejecting of form of the species-of witnessing, if we Christ, was there a determined rebellion of may so express ourselves, a sensible exhipurpose against the light of their own con-bition of the Godhead-of hearing the truth science? Was there a wilful and resolved of God fall in human utterance upon their suppression of the force of evidence? Was ears, with a tone of inimitable candour of there a habitual stifling within them of the seeing the earnest longing of God after the movement and the impulse of moral princi- creatures he had formed, stamped in living ple? Was there a firm and deliberate post- and undeniable traces upon a human couning of themselves on the ground of opposi- tenance-of beholding the tenderness of tion, in the whole of their past resistance to God expressed in human tears, by him who this Jesus of Nazareth? Was there an ob- wept over the sins and the sufferings of stinate keeping of this ground? Was there mankind-and all the goodness of Deity an audacious and desperate intent of holding distinctly announcing itself in the mild and out against all that could be offered in the impressive sympathies of a human voice.

[ocr errors]

Think you not that there was no struggling he had sealed his testimony by his blood, with their own consciences, and no wilful mark how the man who presided over the blinding of their own hearts, on the part of execution, was overpowered into the acthose by whom such an exhibition was re- knowledgment, that "Surely this was the sisted ? Surely, surely, the Spirit of God Son of God;" and how they, unsoftened did much to subdue their acquiescence in and unsubdued, stood fast to their objectthe alone way of salvation--when all his and got his body to be watched, and a stoty fruits and all his accomplishments were to be devised, and a falsehood of deliberate gathered upon the person of the Redeemer manufacture to be thrown afloat, with which into one. visible assemblage--when the they might stem the growing faith of our whole force of this moral ascendency was Saviour's resurrection. Now, in this differmade so nearly and .so repeatedly to bear cnce between the resolved and inflexible upon them-when truth, with all its plead-, hatred of the Jewish persecutors of Christ, ing energy, assailed them and gentleness and the relentings of other men, do you see tried to win them over to the cause of their no suppression of the voice of conscienceown eternity--and the soft eye of compas- no resistance to that light of principle which sion beamed upon them-and the unwearied sends forth an occasional gleam over the forbearance, which no weight of personal path of the determinedly reprobate, do you injustice could overcome, told them how, see no one of those ingredients which give for their sakes, Jesus of Nazareth was ready to the sin against the Holy Ghost all the to do all and to suffer all---and patience, even malignancy that belongs to it-or, rather, in unto martyrdom, left a meek, but a firm testi- this hard and unmovable hostility against mony behind it. 0! think you not, that in one whose challenge to convince him of the perverse representations, and the spite- sin, they dared not to entertain ; against ful malignity, and the sullen immoveable one; of whom they could not fail to perceive, hardness, by which all this was withstood that he was the mildest, and the sincerest, and overborne, there was such an outrage and the most unoffending, and the most unupon the authority of conscience, and such wearied in well-doing of all the characters a dark and determined principle of rebellion that had met their observation, do you not against him who prompts it with all its in- perceive how it was in the cause of their stigations, as by provoking him to cast them own offended pride, and their own threatoff from all his further communications, ened interest, that they made their sysmight raise an eternal barrier against that tematic resistance to every moral argument, faith, and that repentance, and that obedi- and hurried away their minds from every ence to the Gospel of Christ, through which painful remonstrance--and that, too, in the alone forgiveness is extended to a guilty very style in which the obstinately impeniworld.

tent of the day do, in resistance to every To aggravate still further this resistance demonstration of guilt, and to every warnto the moral claims of the Saviour, on the ing of danger, walk in the counsel of their part of his inflexible enemies, let us see how own hearts, and in the sight of their own these very claims told on the consciences eyes. of other men. The officers whom they sent It is very true, that it was upon an outto apprehend hiin, when they went, faltered ward act of speaking, on the part of the from the purpose, at what they saw and Pharisees, that our Saviour uttered this re-, heard--and when they returned with their markable denunciation. But remember errand unsulfilled, and the answer in their what he says himself upon this subject mouth, that “ surely never man spake like how the things which come out of a man this man," they found the masters they had are evil, because they are the products of a to deal with were made of sterner mate- heart which is evil. Remember what is rials---men who knew not what it was to said a few verses before-how our Saviour, salter--men who reproached them for their who knew what was in man, knew the moral sensibility---and who had sternly thoughts of those Pharisees; and it is upon resolved, at all hazards, and in defiance to his knowledge of their thoughts, that, he all principle, to rid themselves of this dan- ascribed such a malignity, and laid such a gerous pretender. Again, when they insti- weight of condemnation on the words gated Pilate to a capital sentence against which conveyed them. Remember what him, the Roman governor was shaken by is said a few verses after, where the fruit all that he observed of this innocent victim is represented as bad, just because the tree ---but look all the while at the unrelenting is bad--where the words have their whole constancy with which they kept by their character of evil imparted to them, just be purpose; and in the barbarous prosecution cause it is out of the abundance of the heart of it schooled the governor out of his diffi- that the mouth speaketh, and out of the evil culties; and raised the phrenzy of the popu- humours of the heart, that the man bringlace; and surrounded the best and kindest eth forth evil things. And surely, when, of the species with the scowl of a brutal after our Saviour had uttered such a pecuand reviling multitude. And, lastly, when I liar sentence of condemnation on the sin

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

against the Holy Ghost, he expressly con- of every one of them, rather than own the nects the words of the mouth, with the dis- hand of God, or submit to the demonstraposition of the heart, ere he tells us that it tion of his power in the miracle before was by our words we shall be justified, and them. It was indeed a desperate fetch that by our words we shall be condemned—we they made for an argument, when the very ought no longer to do what we are sure is work in which they gloried, and on which done by many in their obscure imagina- they founded the credit of their own order, tions upon this subject, we ought not to was so maligned and misrepresented by liken the sin against the Holy Ghost to the them. They had ever been in the habit of spell of some magical incantation, deriving ascribing the possessions of that age to the the whole of that deadly taint which be- power of Beelzebub—and now to give a colongs to it, from some infernal charm lour to their hatred to Jesus and his claims, with which the utterance of mere language they suppose the house of Beelzebub to is darkly and unaccountably impregnated, be divided against itself, and they ascribe But knowing that every denunciation of to his power a miracle, the doing of which our great Spiritual Teacher, had some clear went to dispossess him of a part of his emand unchangeable principle of morality pire. They pretended that their sons or to rest upon-and perceiving, as we do, their proselytes had the power of casting that on this very occasion he refers us to out those possessions, and never failed to the disposition of the heart, as that which ascribe this power to the Spirit and the gives to the utterance of the tongue all its countenance of God--but now they turned malignity, let us, when reading of this des- round upon the matter, and by rearing the parate guilt of the Pharisees, look to the argument against the Saviour in the direct spirit and moral temper of the Pharisees, face of their own principle, did they prove and if possible, gather a something that how firmly they were resolved to lay hold may carry to our own bosoms a salutary of any thing, rather than admit the claims and convincing application.

of one who was so offensive to them. Thus And a single glance at the circumstances did they give, perliaps at this moment, a may be enough to satisfy us, that never, in more conspicuous evidence than they had any one recorded passage of their history, ever done before, how every proof and did they evince the bent of so inflexible al every remonstrance would all be wasted determination against the authority of con- upon them. The Spirit of God had gone science--never such a wilful darkening of his uttermost length with them, and on their own hearts against the light and the abandoning them for ever, he left behind power of evidence, as in the passage that is him their blood upon their own head, and now before us. The whole weight of that the misery of an irrecoverable condition, moral argument on which we have already that was of their own bringing on. He had expatiated, was reinforced by a miracle so long borne with them-and it will be seen striking and so palpable in its effects, that in the day of reckoning, when all mysteall the people were thrown into amazement. ries are cleared up, how great the patience, But what constituted the peculiarity of the and the kindness, and the unwearied permiracle was, that it was just such a miracle severance were which they had resisted. as the Pharisees themselves had been ac- For though the spirit strives long, he does customed to look upon with veneration, and not strive always; and they brought on had viewed as an example of successful this crisis in their history, just by the very hostility against the empire of darkness. steps in which every impenitent man brings They had faith in these possessions. They it on in the present day, by a wilful resistcounted every one of them to be the work ance to the light of their own understandof Beelzebub, and the casting out of any of ing; by a resolute suppression of the voice them as a direct triumph of warfare against of their own conscience. the prince of the devils. They themselves, But we must bring all these explanations it would appear, laid claim to the power to a close. The distinction between speakof dispossessing these demons, and we have ing against the Son of man, and speaking no doubt that the imagination of such a against the Holy Ghost, may be illustrated power residing with them and their chil- by what he says of the difference between dren, or proselytes, would help to give bearing witness of himself, and another them that prophetical sanctity in the eyes bearing witness of him. If he had had no of the common people, which they so much other testimony than his own to offer, they aspired after.

had not had sin. If he had not done the But when the very thing on which they works before them which none other man tried to strengthen their own claims to au- did, and which no mere son of man could thority, was done by that man, the progress do, they had not had sin. If he had noof whose authority, among his countrymen, thing to show on which to sustain the chathey were determined, at all hazards, to ar-racter that signalized him above the mere rest; they went round the whole compass children of men, their resistance could have of their principles, and quashed the voice been forgiven; but he had shown the most

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

abundant evidence on this point-he had was still in reserve. It still partook of opjust performed a deed which their every position to a fellow-man. But when that habit, and their every conception, led them to decisive evidence was at length offered, and ascribe to the Spirit and the power of God, the Spirit interposed with his last and and he had brought forward what to their greatest attempt to vindicate his own seal, own judgments was the testimony of the and to authenticate his own commission on Spirit, and they resisted it. It was no the person of Jesus of Nazareth ; then that longer now an opposition to man, and a rail- which was before the speaking evil of the ing of man, and a contemptuous negligence Son of man become the speaking evil of of man: all this is sinful; but it was not the Son of God; and that, aggravated to that which blocked up the way against the the uttermost length that it now would be remission of sin; it was when they reviled permitted to go. And the Pharisees, by him who offered to lead them on in that smothering the light of all that evidence way, that they were ever strengthening the which the Holy Spirit had brought forward, barrier which lay across the path of accept- both in the miracles that were done, and in ance. While the last and most conclusive the graces of that sinless example which proof that would be given of Jesus having was set so impressively before them, had indeed the seal and the commission of the by that time raised in their hearts such Spirit upon him, was not yet tried and an entrenchment of prejudice against the found ineffectual; all their opposition to faith of the Gospel, and so discouraged the him still partook of opposition to one of Holy Spirit from any farther attempt to scale whom the most decisive evidence that he and to surmount it, that all recovery was was any thing more than the Son of man, I hopeless, and all forgiveness was impossible.

[blocks in formation]

On the Advantages of Christian Knowledge to the Lower Orders of Society.

· Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished."

Ecclesiastes iv. 13.

THERE is no one topic on which the Bi-heart, and of a spirit, and of capacities for ble, throughout the variety of its separate truth and for righteousness, to man signalcompositions, maintains a more lucid andized by prosperity, and clothed in the pomp entire consistency of sentiment, than the and in the circumstance of its visible glories superiority of moral over all physical and this is quite akin with the superiority all external distinctions. This lesson is which the Bible every where ascribes to the frequently urged in the Old Testament, and soul over the body, and to eternity over as frequently reiterated in the New. There time, and to the Supreme Author of Being is a predominance given in both to worth, over all that is subordinate and created. It and to wisdom, and to principle, which marks a discernment, unclouded by all those leads us to understand, that within the associations which are so current and have compass of human attainment, there is an so fatal an ascendency in our world--the object placed before us of a higher and more wisdom of a purer and more ethereal reestimable character than all the objects of gion than the one we occupy--the unpola common-place ambition—that wherever | luted clearness of a light shining in a dark there is mind, there stands associated with place, which announces its own coming it a nobler and more abiding interest than to be from above, and gives every spiritual all the aggrandizements which wealth or reader of the Bible to perceive the beaming rank can bestow-that within the limits of of a powerful and presiding intelligence the moral and intellectual department of in all its pages. our nature, there is a commodity which One very animating inference to be drawn money cannot purchase, and possesses a from our text, is, how much may be made more sterling excellence than all which of humanity. Did a king come to take up money can command. This preference of his residence among you-did he shed a man viewed in his essential attributes, to grandeur over your city by the presence of man viewed according to the variable ac- his court, and give the impulse of his excessories by which he is surrounded--this penditure to the trade of its population -preference of the subject to all its outward were not easy to rate the value and the and contingent modifications--this prefer- magnitude which such an event would have ence of man viewed as the possessor of al on the estimation of a common understandapplies

ing, or the degree of personal importance among the poorest of them all, has a wiswhich would attach to him, who stood a dom and a weight of character, which lofty object in the eye of admiring towns- makes him the oracle of his neighbourhood men. And yet it is possible, out of the raw the man, who, vested with no other auand ragged materials of the obscurest lane, thority than the meek authority of worth, to rear an individual of more inherent carries in his presence a power to shame worth, than him who thus draws the gaze and to overawe the profligacy that is around of the world upon his person. By the act him--the venerable father, from whose of training in wisdom's ways the most tat- lowly tenement the voice of psalms is heard tered and neglected boy who runs upon our to ascend with the offering up of every pavements, do we present the community evening sacrifice—the Christian sage, who, with that which, in wisdom's estimation, is exercised among life's severest hardships, of greater price than this gorgeous inhabi- looks calmly onward to heaven, and trains tant of a palace. And when one thinks the footsteps of his children in the way that how such a process may be multiplied leads to it-the eldest of a well-ordered among the crowded families that are around family, bearing their duteous and honouraus-when one thinks of the extent and the ble part in the contest with its difficulties density of that mine of moral wealth, which and its trials—all these offer to our notice retires, and deepens, and accumulates, be- such elements of moral respectability, as do hind each front of the street along which exist among the lowest orders of human we are passing--when one tries to compute society, and elements, too, which admit of the quantity of spirit that is imbedded in being multiplied far beyond the reach of the depth and the frequency of these hu- any present calculation. And while we man habitations, and reflects of this native hold nothing to be more unscriptural than ore, that more than the worth of a monarch the spirit of a factious discontent with the may be stamped, by instruction, on each rulers of our land-while we feel nothing separate portion of it—a field is thus opened to be more untasteful than the insolence of for the patriotism of those who want to give a vulgar disdain towards men of rank, or an augmented value to the produce of our men of opulence-yet should the king upon land, which throws into insignificance all the throne be taught to understand, that the enterprises of vulgar speculation. Com- there is a dignity of an intrinsically higher merce may flourish, or may fail--and amid order than the dignity of birth or powerthe ruin of her many fluctuations, may ele- a dignity which may be seen to sit with vate a few of the more fortunate of her sons gracefulness on the meanest of his subjects to the affluence of princes. Thy merchants —and which draws from the heart of the may be princes, and thy traffickers be the beholder a truer and profounder reverence. honourable of the earth.

So that, were it for nothing more than to But if there be truth in our text, there | bless and adorn our present state, there canmay, on the very basis of human society, not be an attempt of greater promise, than and by a silent process of education, mate- that of extending education among the rials be formed, which far outweigh in cost throng of our peasantry; there cannot be and true dignity, all the blazing pinnacles a likelier way of filling the country with that glitter upon its summit-and it is, in-beauteous and exalted spectacles--there candeed, a cheering thought to the heart of a not be a readier method of pouring a glory philanthropist, that near him lies a territory over the face of our land, than that of spreadso ample, on which he may expatiate- ing the wisdom of life, and the wisdom of where for all his pains, and all his sacrifices, principle, throughout the people who live he is sure of a repayment more substantial, in it---a glory differing in kind, but greatly than was ever wafted by richly laden flo- higher in degree, than the glories of comtilla to our shores-where the return comes mon prosperity. It is well that the proto him, not in that which superficially decks gress of knowledge is now looked to by the man, but in a solid increment of value politicians without alarm--that the ignofixed and perpetuated on the man himselfrance of the poor is no longer regarded as where additions to the worth of the soul more essential to the devotion of their paform the proceeds of his productive opera-triotism, than it is to the devotion of their tion--and where, when he reckons up the piety--that they have, at length, found that profits of his enterprise, he finds them to the best way of disarming the lower orders consist of that, which, on the highest of all of all that is threatening and tumultuous, authorities, he is assured to be more than is not to enthral, but to enlighten them; meat, of that which is greatly more than that the progress of truth among them, inraiment.

stead of being viewed with dismay, is Even without looking beyond the con- viewed with high anticipation--and an imfines of our present world, the virtue of hum-pression greatly more just, and greatly more ble life will bear to be advantageously con- generous, is now beginning to prevail, that trasted with all the pride and glory of an the strongest rampart which can possibly elevated condition. The man who, though I be thrown around the cause of public tran

en

« AnteriorContinuar »