Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

passing day or night among strangers, or at an inn; and he will recognize what I mean. He will understand what this argument is, which the very face of society presents; viz. that religion is not needed for this world, and therefore is of no great importance.

Now, let it be observed, what I have already implied, men of the world do not deny the existence and power of God. No; they only hold this—(I do not mean in words, but implicitly)—they hold, I say, not that there is not an Almighty Ruler, whose subjects they are, but they deny in their hearts what is meant by religion, or religious service; they deny their duty towards God; they deny His personal existence, and their subjection to Him. Yes; and if they are obliged at any time to own the existence of religious duty, then they say, to get rid of the subject, in an insincere way, lightly, heartlessly, sometimes scoffingly, that the best kind of religion is “to do their duty in this world,” that this is the true worship of God; in other words, that the pursuit of money, of credit, of power, that the gratification of self, and the worship of self, is doing their duty. This unbelief you see in a variety of shapes. For instance, many persons openly defend the aim at rising in the world, and speak in applause of an honourable ambition; as if the prizes of this world were from heaven, and the steps of this world's ladder were the ascent of Angels which Jacob saw. Others, again, consider that their dụty lies simply in this,in making money for their families. The soldier thinks that fighting for his king is his sufficient religion; and the statesman, even when he is most blameless, that serving his country is religion. God's service, as such, as distinct from the service of this world, is in no sense recognized. Faith, hope, love, devotion, are mere names; some visible idol is taken as the substitute for God.

And will God Almighty thus be defrauded of what is due to Him? Will He allow the seductions of this world's

[ocr errors]

sophistry, against which He has Himself warned us, to excuse us in His sight at the last day? Will it be sufficient to acquit us at His judgment-seat for neglecting His word, that we have trusted the world ? for scoffing at faith, that we have lived by.sight? Will it compensate for neglecting the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we have been Pantheists? is not this our very calling as Christians, to live by faith? If we do not, it is mere trifling to call ourselves Christians at all. The world promises that if we trust it we cannot go wrong. Why? because it is so many

—there are so many men in it; they must be right. This is what it seems boldly to say,—“God cannot punish so many.” So it is, we know, in human law. The magistrate never can punish a very great number of the community at once; he is obliged to let the multitude of culprits escape him, and he makes examples;—and this is what we cannot help fancying God will do. We do not allow ourselves to take in the idea that He can, and that He has said He will, punish a thousand as easily as one. What the poor and ignorant man, who lives irreligiously, professes, is what all really profess. He, when taxed with neglect of religion, says that “he is as good as his neighbours,” he speaks out; he speaks abruptly, but he does but say what multitudes feel who do not say it. They think that this world is too great an evil for God to punish; or rather that therefore it is not an evil, because it is a great one. They cannot compass the idea that God should allow so great an evil to exist, as the world would be, if it is evil; and therefore, since He does allow it, it is not an evil. In vain does Scripture assure them that it is an evil, though God allows it. In vain does the whole Psalter, from beginning to the end, proclaim and protest that the world is against the truth, and that the saints must suffer. In vain do Apostles tell us, that the world lieth in wickedness; in vain does Christ Himself declare, that broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and

many there be that go in thereat. In vain do Prophets tell us, that in the end the saints shall possess the kingdom,implying they do not possess it now. In vain is the vast judgment of the Deluge; in vain the instant death of the first-born in Egypt, and of the hosts of Sennacherib. No, we will not believe; the words of the Tempter ring in our ears," Ye shall not surely die !” and we stake our eternal interests on sight and reason, rather than on the revealed word of God. O how miserable in that day, when the dead bones rise from their graves, and the millions who once lived are suminoned before their Omnipotent Judge, whose breath is a fiery stream, and whose voice is like the sound of many waters! How vain to call upon the rocks to fall on us; or to attempt to hide ourselves among the trees of the garden, and to make our brother's sin cover our own; when we are in His presence, who is everywhere at once, and is as fully and entirely our God and Judge, as if there were no other creature but each of us in the whole world! Why will we not learn here, what then to a certainty we shall discover, that number is not strength? Never was a greater fallacy than to suppose that the many must necessarily be stronger than the few ; on the contrary, power is ever concentrated and one, in order to be power. God is one. The heathen raged, the people imagined a vain thing; the kings of the earth and the rulers joined hands and took counsel together; and Christ was one. Such is the Divine rule. “There is one Body and one Spirit,” and “one hope,” and “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.” No; the number of the wicked will be but an increase of their misery; they will but crowd their prison.

Let us then leave the world, manifold and various as it is; let us leave it to follow its own devices, and let us turn to the living and true God, who has revealed Himself to us in Jesus Christ. Let us be sure that He is more true than the whole world, though with one voice all its inhabitants were to speak against Him. And if we doubt where the truth lies, let us pray to Him to reveal it to us; let us pray Him to give us humility, that we may seek aright ; honesty, that we may have no concealed aims; love, that we may desire the truth; and faith, that we may accept it. So that, when the end comes, and the multitudes who have joined hands in evil are punished, we may be of those who, in the words of the text, are“ delivered.” Let us put off all excuses, all unfairness and insincerity, all trifling with our consciences, all self-deception, all delay of repentance. Let us be filled with one wish,— to please God; and if we have this, I say it confidently, we shall no longer be deceived by this world, however loud it speaks, and however plausibly it argues, as if God were with it ; for we shall“ have an unction from the Holy One," and shall “know all things."

SERMON VIII.

THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD.

Gal. iv. 9.-“ After that ye have known God, or rather are known

of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage ?"

Ir is a doctrine frequently used by St. Paul, I need scarcely say, as by the other sacred writers, that the New Covenant of the Gospel has superseded the Jewish Law and all its ordinances; that by baptism all who believed, Jews as well as Gentiles, were rescued through Christ from all elements of this world, and therefore from the Jewish Law, which henceforth had no power over them. This he expresses in the text, in which he rebukes the Galatians for wishing to return to the bondage of Judaism, after they had known the God of grace. Again, he says to the Colossians, “ If ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances ?” Again, to the Romans he says, “ Ye are become dead to the Law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead." Again, “ Now we are delivered from the Law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” And again, “ There is verily a disannulling of the commandment

« AnteriorContinuar »