Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

what? should come short? No-but seem to come short. He not only forbids us to go back -but even to look back. He would have us not only avoid the reality--but the appearance of evil. He would have us not only possess religion, but "adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things." He would not have us remit our caution or our zeal in the smallest degree, so as to render our adherence to the truth suspicious, or our declension from the ways of God probable. He would not have you leave your eternal state in the least uncertainty; or to live, so as to awaken doubts in others, and to lead the people of the world to say, “Ah! they are beginning to come round; they are yielding by little and little; they cannot throw off every thing at once-we shall have them by and by.” We are, like the patriarchs, to declare Plainly that we seek a country-and not puzzle our neighbours to determine whether to consider us as at home, or only as strangers and pilgrims upon earth. We are not to be doubtful characters, so that no reader can make any thing of us, or say whose hand the writing is, but we are

66 to be MANIFESTLY the epistles of Jesus Christ, known and read of all men.-Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any

should seem to come short of it." To conclude. Let us observe, first: how thankful we should be for such a promise left us, of entering into his rest! For surely we could not have reasonably expected it. Had we been informed that God was about to give us a revelation from heaven, our guilty minds would have foreboded nothing but indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man

of you

TOO.

that had done evil. This we deserved-but be. hold, he speaks--and his “thoughts are thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to bring us to an expected end." The address is to tell us of a remedy for our disease: a refuge from the storm; a passage from this world of misery into a better, even a heavenly country.

O what welcome intelligence is this! How much did we stand in need of such a discovery, such an assurance as this! Our earth is a vale of tears. Creatures are broken reeds, and empty cisterns. Our mortifications are frequent. Our pains numerous. Our enjoyments unsatisfying,

Surely man walketh in a vain show!"-But he is not compelled to walk so now.

There are realities attainable: there is satisfaction; there is He hath showed thee, O man,

66 what is good. Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace, thereby good shall come unto thee.” Do not, do not resemble the Jews of old; “to whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest, and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.”

Let us, secondly, see how necessary it is in religion to avoid passing from one extreme into another. The gospel encourages our hope, but then it enlightens it, and guards it.

It iells us not to refuse to be comforted; but it teaches us to blend a holy jealousy with our confidence, and to rejoice with trembling. Some people seem to

' consider the fear of which we have been speaking, as legality, and unbelief-whereas it is promoted by an evangelical frame of mind, and is the offspring of faith. It does not question the truth of the promise-but only makes a man anxious

to ascertain whether he has any part or lot in the matter.

And should this be carelessly decided? Can a man in such a case be too safe, or too certain? Is it not much better to be even needlessly distressed for a time, than to be deceived for ever? Is it not better to have a troubled conscience than a seared one? To this man,” says God, “ will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my word. Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear. Be not highminded, but fear. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling."

Indeed this fear seems to be unavoidable from the very

nature of the case. Whoever attends to the workings of his own mind, well knows, that the proposal of any great, or unexpected benefit, always produces a variety of emotions; wonder is the first: this is instantly succeeded by joy—but there is another feeling, which also immediately seizes the mind, and works very powersully—and this is solicitude-care to attain and secure it-fear, lest after all, we should not realize the possession of it. And this is what our Saviour means when he says, “ The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth, and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” This hiding is not in order to secrecy, but safety: for as by hiding things we commonly secure them—the one expression is put for the other; and this explanation accords with the experience of every awakened soul.For in proportion as you prize salvation, and desire it, and apprehend it to be necessary-s0 will be your fear of coming short of it. Indiffer

All your

ance does not generate fear-No-but conviction does, and so does attachment.

Lastly. What are we to say of those of you who know nothing of this salutary concern? perhaps if some of you were to speak what you feel, you would say that the loss of this rest was the least of all your fears. It never disturbs your repose by night, or imbitters your enjoyment by day. Whenever the thought enters, you consider it as an intruder, and soon expel it. fear is limited to the world, and the present life. You fear for your health, and are alarmed when any unfavourable symptoms appear.

You fear for your business; your fortune; your estateand cannot deem yourselves too secure.

You ask, “ What shall I eat, and what shall I drink, and wherewithal shall I be clothed?” But you never inquire, " What shall I do to be saved”

And yet, what is every other interest to this? And do you imagine, that this greatest of all concerns can be managed or secured without at. tention or care? Do you think that leaving the boat to the stream will bring you safe while you are asleep, or at play?-This may do, if you wish to sail down with the stream, and be carried into the gulf below. But the course to heaven lies against the stream--and helm, and oars, and labour, and diligence, are indispensably necessary. "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.”. Amen.

DISCOURSE II.

REVIEW OF LIFE.

(LAST DAY OF THE YEAR.)

-And God requireth that which is past.-—Eccl. iii. 15.

With God nothing is past, nothing is future. I Am is his name, and this is his memorial in all generations. “One day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years are as one day.

The very reverse of this is the case with us. For with us nothing is present: all is future, or past. Thus a man stands by the side of a river, and sees something swimming down the stream now it is above him-and now it is below him but it never stops before him—So, of all the things that befall us in this world, to use the language of the poet,

-We can never say they're here,
But only say they're past.

But when they are gone by, we have not entirely done with them. Some consequences do remain, and others ought to remain— and God requireth that which is past.” He demands an account of the past and this we shall render hereafter: he demands an improvement of the past and this we must attend to now.

Let us then apply this to a review of our means -to a review of our merciesto a review of our sorrows and to a review of our sins. We cannot have a better opportunity for this exercise,

« AnteriorContinuar »