Imágenes de páginas
[blocks in formation]

We walk by faith, not by sight. " HOW fhort is this description of real Christians! And

yet how exceeding full! It comprehends, it sums up the whole experience of those that are truly such, from the time they are born of God, will they remove into Abraham's bosom. For, who are the we that are here spoken of? All that are true Christian believers. I say, Christian, not Jewish believers. All that are not only servants but children of God. All that have the Spirit of adoption, crying in their hearts, Abba, Father. All that have the Spirit of God witnessing with their Jpirits, that they are the fons of God.

2. All these, and these alone can say, We walk by faith, and, not by fight. But before we can possibly walk by faith, we must live by faith, and not by sight. And to all real Christians our Lord faith, Because I live, ye live also: ye live a life, which the world, whether learned or unlearned, know not, of. You that, like the world, were dead in trespasses and fins, hath he quickened, and made alive ; given you new senses, spiritual senses: fenfes exercised to discern spiritual good and evil.

3. In order throughly to understand this important truth, it may be proper to consider the whole matter. All the children of men that are not born of God, walk by fight, having no higher principle. By hght, that is, by Jense: a part being put for the whole; the fight for all the senses: the rather, be. cause it is more noble and more extensive than any, or all the reft. There are but few objects which we can discern by the three inferior fenses of taste, smell, and feeling: and none of ihese can take any cognizance of its object, unless it be brought

into a direct contact with it. Hearing, it is true, has a larger Sphere of action, and gives us some knowledge of things that are diftant. But how small is that distance, fuppofe it were fifty or a hundred miles, compared to that between the earth and the Sun ? And what is even this, in comparison of the diftance of the Sun and Moon and the fixt ftars? Yet the fight continually takes knowledge of objects even at this amazing distance !

4. By sight, we take knowledge of the visible world, froin the susface of the earth, to the region of the fixt stars. But: what is the world visible to us, but “a speck of creation," compared to the whole universe? To the invisible world? That part of the creation which we cannot see at all, by reason of its distance ? In the place of which, through the imperfection of our senses, we are presented with an universal blank?

5. But beside these innumerable objects, which we cannot fee by reason of their distance, have we not sufficient ground to believe, that there are innumerable others of too delicate a nature to be discerned by any of our senses? Do not all, men of unprejudiced reason allow (the small number of Mate-, rialists or Atheists, the same thing, I cannot term men of reason), that there is an invisible world, naturally such, as well as a vilble one? But which of our senses is fine enough to take the leaft knowledge of this ? We can no more perceive any part of this, by our sight, than by our feeling. Should we allow with the ancient Poet, that

[ocr errors]

“ Millions of spiritual crcatures walk the earth Unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep."

Should we allow, that the great Spirit, the Father of all, filleth both heaven and earth. Yet is the finest of our senses utterly incapable of perceiving either Him or them.

6. All our external senses are evidently adapted to this ex. fernal, visible world. They are designed to serve us only

obile we sojourn here, while we dwell in these houses of clay. They have nothing to do with the inviGhle world: they are pot adapted to it. And they can take no more cognizance of the eternal, than of the invisible world. Although we are as fully assured of the existence of ihis, as of any thing in the present world. We cannot think death puts a period to our being. The body indeed returns to duft: but the soul, being of a vobler nature, is not affected thereby. There is therefore an eternal world, of what kind foever it be. But how fall we attain the knowledge of this! What will teach us to draw afde the veil

“ That hangs 'twixt mortal, and immortal being ?

We all know

“ The vaft, the unbounded profpe&t lies before us,"

But are we not constrained to add,

“ Yet clouds, alas! and darkness reft upon it."

7. The most excellent of our senses, it is undeniably plain, can give us no assistance herein. And what can our boasted reason do? It is now universally allowed, Nihil eft in intellectu quod non fuit prius in fenfu : Nothing is in the under, Atanding, which was not first perceived by some of the senses. Consequently the understanding having here nothing to work upon, can afford us no help at all

. So that in spite of all the information we can gain, either from fenfe or reason, both the invifible and eternal world are unknown to all that walk by fight.

8. But is there, no help? Muft they remain in total darkness, concerning the invisible and the eternal world ? We cannot affiun this : even the Heathens did not all remain in total darkness concerning them. Some few rays of light have in all ages and nations gleamed through the shade. Some light they derived from various fountains, touching the invisible world. The heavens declared the glory of God, though not to their outward light: the fir:nament shewed to the eyes of their understanding the existence of their Maker. From the creation they inferred, the being of a Creator, powerful and wise, just and merciful. And hence they concluded, there must be an eternal world, a future state to commence after the present, wherein the justice of God in punishing wicked men, and his inercy in rewarding the righteous will be openly and un. deniably displayed in the sight of all intelligent creatures.

9. We may likewise reasonably suppose, that some traces of knowledge, both with regard to the invisible and the eternal world, were delivered down from Noah and his children, both to their immediate and remote descendents. And however thele were obscured or disguised by the addition of number: less fables, yet something of truth was still mingled with them, and these freaks of light prevented utter darkness. Add to this, that God never in any age or nation, left himJelf quite without a witness in the hearts of men; but while he gave them rain and fruitful seafons, imparted some imperfect knowledge of the Giver. He is the true light that still, in fuine degree, enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world.

10. But all these lights put together availed no farther, thart to produce a faint twilight. It gave them, even the most enlightened of them, no niyxos, no demonstration, no demon. frative conviction, either of the invisible, or of the eternal world. Our philosophical Poel juilly terms Socrates

“The wiseft of all ni oral men."

that is, of all that were not favoured with divine revelation. Yet what evidence had he of another world, when he addressed those that had condemned him to deatha

" And

* And now, O ye Judges, ye are going to live, and I am going to die. Which of these is best, God knows: but I suppose, no man does.” Alas! What a confession is this? Is this all the evidence that poor, dying Socrates had, either of an invisible, or an eternal world! And yet even this is preferable to the light of the great and good Emperor, Adrian. Remember, ye modern heathens, and copy after his pathetic address to bis parting soul. (For fear I should puzzle you with Latin, I give it you in Prior's fine translation.)

" Poor, little, pretty, fluttering thing,

Mult we no longer live together?
And doft thou prune thy trembling wing,

To take thy flight, thou knowėít not whither.

Thy pleasing vein, thy humorous folly,

Lies all neglected, all forgot!
And pensive, wavering, melancholy,

Thou hopelt and feareft thou knowės not what."

11. “Thou knowest not what!" True, there was no knowjedge of what was to be hoped or feared after death, till the Sun of Righteousness arose, to dispel all their vain conjectures; and brought life and immortality, that is, immortal life to light through the gospel. Then, (and not till then, unless in some sare instances) God revealed, unveiled the invisible world. He then revealed himself to the children of men. The Father revealed the Son in their hearts : and the Son revealed the Father. He that of old time commanded light to shine in their hearts, and enlightened them with the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.

[To be concluded in our next.)

Vol. XIII.


A short

« AnteriorContinuar »