Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forsaken me. Can a woman forget her sucking child that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb ? yea, they may forget, yet will not I forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands, thy walls are continually between me.” While therefore, we take courage from the inviolable promises of the Lord in reference to our own individual progress in righteousness, and in true holiness; it is with shouts of joyful acclamation we bail the sacred predictions now fulfilling, in reference to the universal establishment of his true spiritual church on the earth, and we lift up our hearts to him and say, “Q that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion : then shall Jacob rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.”

SERMON XIX.

ON THE HAPPINESS RESULTING FROM KEEPING THE

COMMANDMENTS FOR THE LOVE OF THEM.

BY THE

REV. T. WORCESTER, OF BOSTON, U. S.

John vi. 38. I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will

of him that sent me.In order to have a just and comprehensive view of the Christian religion, we need to consider whence it came, and to whom it was given ; or if this is attempting too much, and assuming too high a ground, let us view the subject from our own experience. We all are, or have been, totally ignorant of the happiness which is found in doing the commandments purely from the love of them. Now when we are in this state of ignorance, how can a knowledge or perception of that happiness be communicated to us. It cannot be communicated to us by definition or description, any better than a knowledge of colours to the blind, or of sounds to the deaf; for it is a thing that must be experienced and felt, in order to be understood and known. A course of conduct may be prescribed, but it cannot be shewn how or why that course will lead man to bappiness. The indulgence of evil affections may be forbidden, but the nature of good affections cannot be made known. We may, therefore, observe this general distinction between the things that can, and those that cannot be revealed ;-external rules of conduct may be given and made plain ; but the affections from which that conduct should proceed, and the happiness which follows it as a consequence, must remain hidden, or be expressed in mysterious language. And since neither the affections nor the happiness can be revealed, the connexion between them and the truth as precepts cannot be revealed.

In the New Testament we accordingly find these to be the mysterious subjects. That kind of love from which the precepts proceeded, or that affection from which our Lord spake and acted, could not be made known; and it was therefore denoted obscurely

- As my

by such expressions as these—“I came down from heaven not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” Father hath taught me, I speak these things.” “ The works which the Fatber hath given me to finish." " The same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.”

As the origin of the precepts is but obscurely revealed, so also the effect of the precepts—that state of happiness which results from obedience to them, is also obscurely revealed. The doctrines of the New Testament go upon the presumption that man is entirely ignorant of that happiness which is found in doing the commandments; and in order to induce him to obey them, it is represented in the promise of heaven and of rewards.

Thus we see that there is an analogy between the relation which the precepts bear to their origin, and that which they bear to their effect; for the precepts, like him who gave them, “came forth from the Father, and came into the world; and again they leare the world and go to the Father.” And as the divine love, from which they were sent, cannot be made known to the natural man by revelation, so the bappiness which is found in obeying theın sincerely cannot be made known. They are both left, as they necessarily must be, to the state, the disposition, and the character of men to ascertain and determine. And while men have the plain intelligible precepts of the Word before them as an object of sight, the rest is left to their imagination. As to the origin of the precepts, they will suppose it to be such an affection and such a motive as would induce them to utter the same words; and as to their effect, they will suppose the happiness of heaven to be what they would call happiness.

Now all Christians believe in the existence of our Lord, and that he once dwelt upon earth ; they believe that he was sent by the Father, that his words are true, and that obedience to them will make us happy hereafter. These things can be substantiated by external evidence, and believed like any other matters of fact. It requires little moral principle, and no spirituality, to assent to them in the common way. And here all Christians unite in opinion. Bat as to the true character of our Lord, and as to the relation between him and the Father; as to the true character of his words, and as to the relation between them and future happiness, opinions are as various as the states and affections of men. Our views of the Lord depend upon the affections from which we act; our views of beaven upon the kind of happiness we desire; and our views of both upon the affections and feelings with which we regard the commandments of God or our duty.

We will illustrate this subject by one or more examples. When the evils of self-love, and the love of the world, are so far removed from our wills, that the commandments of God are themselves the object of our affection; when we delight in doing them for their own sake, without any fear of punishment or hope of reward hereafter; when there is nothing within them which we should wish to have otherwise, and nothing without which we should wish to hare included, and which we should wish to indulge in; when all the heaven and all the reward we wish for is the ability to perform them more fully and more perfectly, then we shall believe that the Father and the Son are one, and that the happinees of heaven consists in doing the commandments. We are then created anew in the image and likeness of God, and are recipients of the love and wisdom which proceed from him, and which are, in the Sacred Scriptures, called the Holy Spirit. His love makes its abode in the will, as his truth does in the understanding. Then our regard for the divine law is, like the law itself, a self-existent and independent principle, before which heaven and earth may pass away, without abating one jot or tittle from its power and efficiency. As we do not love the law on account of any thing else, nor from the hope of any thing else, our love will not change with any thing, but will be immutable and everlasting.

When this image and likeness of God are produced in man; when the truth in his understanding is married to good in his will, and inclination and duty have become one, then it will no longer be a mystery to him, that our Lord should have all power in heaven and earth,--that he should be one with the Father,-that he should say in his prayer to the Father, all mine are thine, and thine, mine. It would be as in possible for him to think of the Father and the Son, as two persons, as to think of his inclination and his duty, as separate and different things. All previous appearances of their being two, will fade away, and at length vanish from his memory, together with the recollection of the labours and sufferings which he has endured, in the process of bringing his inclination, first, into submission to, and, finally, into a perfect union with, his duty. He can understand what is recorded of our Lord in the Scriptures; his apparent separation from the Father; his submission to the Father ; his praying to the Father; because he has an exact image of it in his own experience, and because he is now shewn plainly

of the Father; and the Holy Spirit brings all things to his remembrance whatsoever the Lord has said.

From this eminence he can look back upon the views which he has before entertained, and account for them. He can see that they were all owing to the state of his affections ; that at such times he did not view the commandments of God with a single eye, but that his regard for them was mixed and adulterated. He can see that, in every stage of his progress, he viewed the Lord in the same way that he viewed his commandments. For, when we have once gained this eminence, we can review, at a glance, the difficult and circuitous path, by which we ascended; and can recollect the fallacious appearance of things while on the way.

We can then see that when we viewed the precepts of the Word in an external light, without entering into their spirit, or the spirit of him who gave them, we also thought of our Lord as merely a

we had no perception of, nor relish for, that good which was within the precept, and belonged to it; and consequently no perception of, nor affection for, the Father, who was within the Son; we regarded our Lord as a man, and his Word as a human composition. And when we thought the love of self to be a proper principle of action, and imagined that we were good of ourselves, we regarded our Lord as influenced by the same principles ; and supposed that he shunned that which was evil, and performed that which was good, from the same feelings and with the same motives, that would induce us to do so; or, in the language of Scripture, we supposed that he “cast out devils by the prince of devils." As we did not receive his spirit and the spirit of his Word, we appreciated him according to that which was within ourselves. And if, from some external reasons, these conclusions did not come forth into form and profession, still we perceive that such was the latent tendency of our affections.

We recollect that when we had no affection for the commandments of God, but still were anxious about the future state, we regarded the Lord as a person distinct from the Father; we believed that he suffered the punishment of our transgressions ; that he fulfilled the law in our stead; and that we were to be saved by faith alone, and the imputation of his righteousness. But whenerer we felt the least spark of affection for the commandments, our views of redemption began to soften, and we were led to think that the works, which he performed, were designed to make us better, and by this means to redeem and save us; and when this spark was fauned into a flaine, it consumed all the

« AnteriorContinuar »