Imágenes de páginas

his special mercy, his evident working | conceptions and purposes; then it alfor our welfare, his naming of us, his ters, and amends, and occupies itself calling of us, his blessing us with his with speculations about the end and grace, and the right hand of his power, meaning of human life. It here achieves which hath brought us up hitherto | its liberation from the bondage of cusand hitherto defended us. Then in tom, and, away from noise and folly, such meditations God's spirit will takes its fill of calmness and freedom; take a part, and prompt you to fall and I will be bold to say, that no man upon your knees and render him was ever blessed to design aught benethanks. You will pay your vows unto ficial to his kind, to change any of the the Lord, and devote before him the currents of custom, who did not devote service of your future life; and the and addict himself much to retirement consolations of the holy one shall de

and solitude, and no man was ever scend upon you, and with a peace converted from the error of his ways that passeth understanding you shall

without much private meditation, se-' lay yourselves down into the lap of cret prayer, and self-examination. his carefulness, and sweet sleep after Nay, nature speaks in behalf of the such holy occupation shall be com

lesson which I this day endeavour to manded to fall upon you, and your inculcate-speaks within the bosom of visions of the night shall not trouble man, woman, and child. What meanyou, and in the morning you shall eth that jocund face, and merry heart, awake and walk in your uprightness; and joyous spirit, with which people and when eventide comes again it leave the noise of the city behind them? will bring with it its season of thought What means that roving of the eye unand reflexion; and new revelations

wearied over the aspects of the country? shall be made to you from above, and Why do poets ever cull their images of your way well ordered and sure shall happiness and innocence from the shine more and more unto the perfect country? Why do we citizens plant day.

herbs and flowers around and in our Now I know that your ignorant very houses? Why do we ornament wits, city bred, and by the excitement the hangings and furniture of our of the city rendered incapable of such chambers with rural scenes ?-hang meditative moods, do, when occupation pictures of the country upon our walls? of business ceases, look out for oc

Why is it, but that there are parts of cupation of amusement, and after

our soul which call for nature in her days passed in offices, chambers, and simple form, which long after her sicounting-houses, think the evenings lence and verdure, and which, feeling best spent in parties, in theatres, in themselves ready to perish through crowded assemblies. To such what much bustle and occupation, do, by a hath been said will appear weak and desperate effort, serve themselves theresilly sentiment, the fruit of an affected with, and will construct emblems of or fanciful brain ; in which they do but the country everywhere, importing its demonstrate the complete eradication productions, planting bowers, and of those finer parts of nature to which shady walks, and evergreens, in the this discourse addresseth itself. For very heart of the most populous and these contemplative moods which I living quarters of the town. Therefore, have sought to turn to the service of in the lesson and argument of this disreligion, are not the resting time merely course I am borne out by the voice of of the mind, but the breeding time; universal nature; universal except in then it is creative, and engenders new a few, who, never escaping during the

time when soul and body are con- deavour our best to sanctify, what an formed, out of the alley or lane in that assemblage of staring varieties, prying, quarter of the city where they were irreverent talkings, by which the piborn, become a sort of fixture which ous and contemplative moods of the cannot bear to be removed. But what true worshippers are put to flight, are such unfortunate people? they are, their virtuous strains of conversation amongst men, what the dwarfish and put out of countenance, and self-exstunted shrubs of the city are to the amination scared away, which I hold noble and graceful trunks which dis- to be the foundation-stone of religious play themselves in their natural wood- edification ; and I myself, who enlands.

deavour, as God gives me the ability, I know, moreover, that the persons with sincerity and singleness of heart, of the city, showing the same pre- to lead this congregation, have need of judices in another kind, will say that all my grace and fortitude to be hinall this concerning which I discourse dered from giving way to some of the matters nothing provided the family humours into which the consciousness devotion be regularly attended to, and of such conditions as surround me religious conversations are regularly would betray a less resolute man. held, and the temple attended upon, which rebuke, brethren, take not and the weighty matters of the church amiss—those of my congrgeation know regarded. But what, I ask, is the de. me too well to think that I would say votion that cometh not out of con- anything unkind, and they lament the templation of God's works ? or what evil as much as I can do. I speak not is the prayer that proceedeth not from of them—I speak not against any one, the knowledge of our own hearts ? I simply point to the effect which city Truly, I have heard a peasant's prayer, bustle and excitement have upon the the prayer of a man who conversed with most sacred service of religion. his God, and his own soul more in- Oh! brethren, I have seen sabbath formed with the spirit of piety, broader sights, and joined in sabbath worships, and deeper in its religious sentiment, which took the heart with their simpliand nobler in its ascriptions of praise city, and ravished it with sublime emoand utterance of humility, than would tions. I have crossed the hills in the have supplied the formality and cant of sober and contemplative autumn, to many city conventicles. And for the reach the retired lonely church betimes, religious conversations of cities, I hold andas we descended towards the simple them the most futile and unprofitable edifice, whither every heart and every speculations which the world holds ; foot directed itself from the country places for display, for affectation, for around, on the sabbath morn, we beevery thing but true-hearted piety, held issuing from every vale and mounwhose right place is in the visiting of tain glen, its little train of worshipthe sick and the comforting of the af. pers coming up to the congregation ficted, and the upholding of the des. of the Lord's house, around which the titute. They are a sort of war of bones of their fathers reposed, and opinions, a muster of partics, an idco near to which reposed the bones of latry of some ephemeral creature dress. one who had in cold blood fallen for ed in his brief popularity, and dis- | his God, at the hands of that wretchtracting and not attracting pious and ed man, the hero of our northern rohumble and heavenly moods. And mances; bones oft visited by pious. for temple service, to go no further feet, and covered on the hill side, where than this of our own, which we en- they lie with a stone bearing an in

scription not to be exceeded for sub- | not for courts or parliaments, for stance by any in that sacred mau- plays, routs, or assemblies, but they suleum, which containeth the ashes cared for their wives and children, their of those whom the nation delight laws, their religion, and their God; eth to honour. In so holy a place and they sang their own native songs the people assembled under a roof, in their native vales, songs which the where ye of the plentiful south, men I speak of can alone imagine and would not have lodged the porter of compose, and from whom we citizens your gate. But under that roof the have to be served with songs and mepeople sat and sung their Maker's lodies too, for we can make none such praise, “tuning their hearts, by far ourselves. Now these comparisons the noblest aim," and the pastor mislead, and I fear I may shew unpoured forth to God the simple wants kindness, but I mean none, I mean of the people, and poured into their only the statements of truth, that you, attentive ears the scope of Christian my friends, may be moved to take doctrine and duty, and having filled thought of these matters, and set your the hearts of his flock with his consola- time in order before the Lord, and stand tions, parted with them after much for leisure and liberty against the mani. blessing and mutual congratulation, fold invasions to which we are exposed. and the people went on their way For until you do so your religion rejoicing. Oh! what meaning there will not prosper—your accounts with was in the whole! what piety! what God and eternity will remain unsettled intelligence! what simplicity! The --your conscience will remain conmen were shepherds and came up fused-your soul unoccupied—your in their shepherd's guise, and the very religious fruits immature.

It is as brute, the shepherd's servant and necessary as activity and occupation. companion, rejoiced to come at his The world calls for the latter, and I feet Oh, it was a sabbath! a sab- have thought it my duty as your pasbath of rest! the body and soul were tor to call for the former. Refuse it equally refreshed, and all nature around not for the sake of your spiritual wellseemed to sympathize in the unity doing. Commune with yourselves in which breathed through the congrega- secret. Enter into your closets and tion; and the fruits of such sabbaths pray unto your Father which is in were manisest. The people were healthy, secret, and your Father which is in manly, and happy; and though the secret shall reward you openly. Fear parish was of large extent, there was not the loss of time or of fortune, but not in all its borders a house for disc retire to seek the Lord, and he will light pensing fermented liquors, those poi upon you the light of his countenance, sons of the land. But were the people which shall give you more joy than stupid? yes, in what an over-excited citi- when your corn and wine and oil do zen would call stupid, that is they cared | most abound.

dication of God's perfections as a law- | fresh provocation of a despised amgiver, that every believer shall be so- nesty. Their first blow was at the lemnized into a more awful sense of sceptre of heaven's authority when the evil nature of sin than he is likely they disobeyed the law, and for this to attain by an easy access to a state they have incurred condemnation ; of acceptance, and who would have their second blow is at the sceptre of him to describe the course of a legal heaven's clemency in rejecting the discipline in which he may be left for Gospel, and by this they seal their a scason to mourn or to tremble under condemnation and make it irreversible. the hidings of God's offended coun- It is quite true, that, by the sanction tenance.

of the Gospel, there is a free and will. Now we dispute not that this is one, ing dispensation of mercy to all who and a very common way, in which will accept of it; and the vilest of the law acts as a schoolmaster to sinners may at the instant seat himself bring us unto Christ;" yet it is not the under the shadow of it and be safe. invariable way, and therefore we affirm Some have listened to its call and the that the Gospel cannot be trusted in too law has not been degraded by their soon, that men cannot give up too justification, for in the obedience and early their doubt and their unbelief on sacrifice of Christ the noblest of all the part of heaven's communication, indemnities has been rendered to it; and that the more quickly we are rid and many have been unheeding of its of all suspicion in regard to God's call, and therefore over them the law overtures the better. In other words, still retains its authority and prothe more quickly the period of dread nounces its condemnation; and the and disturbance comes to an end, the vengeance of God will only burn the sooner we come to the tranquillity of more fiercely because the voice of his the Christian faith, the more prompt compassion has been lifted up in vain and the more pleasing is the homage In proportion to the freeness of the that we render to God's faithfulness. slighted call which came forth from

There is really nothing in the free. the mercy-seat, will be the force and ness of the Gospel that at all comes the power of that anger which shall into collision with the honour of the descend from the throne of judgment law. There are two classes of people over the still unrelenting hearts of the to whom the Gospel is addressed rebellious. The more rich the prothose who accept, and those who re- vision of grace is, the more full and ject it. In reference to the first, it hopeless will be the condemnation of is not they who do honour to the law the guilty who have spurned it away --Christ hath made ample provision from them.

If the herald has profor its honour by taking upon him. claimed a full pardon, the execution of self the burden of their atonement; the sentence after him will, on that and in reference to the latter, the law account, burst forth to the uttermost of still reserves against them the right of its fury on those whom the Sovereign its entire vindication. Those penalties finds still despising his authority, and which, by betaking themselves to heedless of his proffered kindness. Christ, they might have avoided, will And if God, willing to show mercy, all be discharged upon those who neg. has proclaimed to all the freeness of lect the Gospel, and the frown of of his grace, tremendous will be the refended Majesty will be the fiercer, be action of his rejected benignity on those cause to the provocation of a broken sinners who shall refuse to entertain commandment they have added the it. The very greatness of the offered

pardon will increase their condemna- of the Gospel. We are now beseeched tion, for “how,” in the language of by the mercy and gentleness of Christ the text, “shall we escape if we neg- in a little while, and ye shall run to lect so great salvation?"

hide yourselves from the wrath of the I think the force of the text lies in a Lamb-to-day, if ye will hear his sentiment, the justness of which may voice, the voice of God would lead you be made familiar to you all. The man to repentance; but if, through the who has been insulted, and has suf- hardness and impenitence of your heart, fered the provocation of sore and re- you despise that voice, then is there peated injuries at the hand of another, another day, which is called “ the day is admitted to have a direct claim of of the revelation of the righteous judgredress and amendment. But should ment of God." There is not a hearer he forbear the prosecution of the claim, now present who is not invited to kiss even as God has forborne the penalties the Son while he is in the way, but along of a broken law, should he stifle all with that invitation he must also take the vindictive propensities of his heart, the alternative—the time is short, and and give way to pitying sensations in the way of reconciliation will soon be behalf of himself and his family, should closed against him; and the Son of he in the generosity of his heart hold God, instead of being found in that out the right hand of fellowship, and way, will be seated on a throne of assure the author of all his injuries, judgment, whence his wrath will that still his only desire is for peace, speedily begin to buro against all who and his only purposes are of unequalled have spurned the offers of his grace. kindness and regard for him, should You have first set at nought the auhe come down so far as to entreat a re- thority of the law—that is, what we conciliation, and protest in the attitude all have done; but by his gracious inof a suppliant his readiness to forgive terposition, that may be still settled ; all and forget all—who is there among but if you thus set at nought the grace you that does not feel from his own of the Gospel, this will be the conbosom, that though it were possible to summation of your ungraciousness stand out the provocation of the first towards God, and the breach between malevolent offence, yet to stand out the Him and you will be whülly irreprovocation of despised forbearance, parable.

parable. You first took from him the and proffered reconciliation may not tables of a perfect commandment, and be possible. The power of sufferance these, to your own condemnation, you may have been stretched beyond the have broken; he then stretched forth limits of the uttermost compassion, the olive-branch of forgiveness, and and overleaping all restraint, seek their that you have also treated with disvindication in visiting with punish- dainful unconcern. It is this which ment the ungrateful offender. Who gives the force of a double-edged sword does not see that the patience which to the preaching of the Gospel ; so was in the mind, and the proffer of that while it is the savour of life unto pardon that burst from the lips being some, to others it is the savour of thus slighted and despised, are the death unto death, and hence the very very causes which heighten the sinner's grace of the offer, if rejected, will agguilt, the very elements that bring the gravate the sinner's future condemmost overwhelming destruction upon nation. him?

You will now sce how it is that the Now this is the very evolution law and the Gospel instead of being in which takes place under the economy conflict with each other, harmonise

« AnteriorContinuar »