Imágenes de páginas

4thly, the suffering of endless and perfect misery; and 5thly, the glory of God in the salvation of a sinner. The motive, which must produce the willingness, in question, must be of sufficient magnitude to overbalance all these: each of them infinite. . Now what is the motive alleged? It is the delight experienced by the Christian in seeing the glory of his Maker promoted by his perdition. Without questioning the possibility of being influenced }. this motive, as far as the nature of the case, merely, is concerned, I observe, that the willingness to glorify God in this manner, and the pleasure joi in glorifying him, (which is the same thing) is to endure but for a moment: that is, during this transient life. The pain, through which this momentary pleasure is gained, is, on the contrary, infinite, or endless, in each of the methods, specified above. Will it be believed, that, if every volition of man is as the greatest apparent good, there can be in this case a volition, nay, a series of volitions, contrary to the atest apparent good : a good, infinitely o: that, by which these volitions are supposed to be excited 2 I say this good is momentary, because the subjects of perdition, immediately after entering upon their sufferings, hate, and oppose, the glory of God throughout eternity. Wi. ood, therefore, the Christian can ..". in glorifying his Creator, he can enjoy only during the present life. It ought to be observed, that the Resignation, here required of the Christian, extends infinitely beyond that, which was required of Christ himself. He was required to undergo only finite and temporary sufferings. The Christian is here required to be willing to undergo infinite sufferings. The sufferings of Christ were, and he knew they were, to be rewarded with infinite glory and happiness. Those of the Christian are only to terminate, daily, in increasing shame, sin, and wo, for ever, Christ for the joy set before him, endured the cross and despised the shame. There is no joy set before the Christian. .As a rule of determining whether we are Christians, or not, it would seem, that hardly any supposable one could be more unhappy. If we should allow the doctrine to be sound, and scriptural; it will not be pretended, that any, unless very eminent, saints arrive at the possession of this spirit in such a degree, as to be satisfied, that they are thus resigned. None but these, therefore, will be able to avail themselves of the evidence derived from this source. To all others, the rule will be not only useless, but in a high degree perplexing, and filled with discouragement. To be thus resigned will, to say the least, demand a vigour and energy of piety, not often found. Rules of self-examination, incomparably plainer, and more easy of application, are given us in the Scriptures, fitted for all persons, and for all cases. Why, with those in our possession, we should resort to this, especially when it is no where found in the Sacred Volume. it would be difficult to

explain. Yet, if this is not the practical use, to be made of this doctrine, it would not be easy to assign to it any use at all.

The Resignation of the Scriptures, as I have before observed, is either a cheerful submission to the evils, which we actually suffer, or a general, undefinable preparation of mind to suffer such others, as God may choose to inflict. In the Bible this spirit is, I believe, never referred to any evils, which exist beyond the grave. If this remark be just, as I think it will be found, there can be no benefit in extending the subject farther than it has been extended by Revelation. # I mistake not, every good consequence, expected from the doctrine, which I have opposed, will be derived from the Resignation here described: while the mind will be disembarrassed of the very numerous, and very serious, difficulties, which are inseparable from the doctrine in question.

2dly. Resignation, as here described, is an indispensable duty of mankind.

The Government of God, even in this melancholy world, is the result of his perfect wisdom, power, and goodness. Now nothing is more evident, than that the government, which flows from such a source, must be absolutely right; or in other words, must be what perfect wisdom and virtue, in us, would certainly and entirely o: To be resigned to such a government, therefore, would be a thing of course, were we perfectly wise and virtuous. But what this character would prompt us to do, it is, now, our indispensable duty to do.

This, however, is not the only, nor the most affecting, view, which we are able to take of the subject. The Government of God in this world is a scheme of Mercy; the most glorious exhibition, which can exist, of Infinite Goodness. Unless our own perverseness prevent, the most untoward, the most afflicting, dispensations, however painful in themselves, are really fitted in the best manner to promote our best interests. . We know, says St. Paul, that all things do work, or, as in the Greek, labour together for good to them that love God.

“Good,” says Mr. Hervey,

* Good, when He gives, supremely good,
Nor less, when he denies;

Even crosses from his sov’reign hand
Are blessings in disguise.”

Surely in such a state of things it must be the natural, the instinctive, conduct of Piety to acquiesce in dispensations of this nature. Under the afflictions which it demands, and which of course it cannot but involve, we may, and must, at times smart; as a child under the rod, when administered by the most affectionate Parental hand: but like children, influenced by filial piety, we shall receive the chastening with resignation and love.

3dly. Resignation is also a most profitable duty.

The profit of this spirit is the increase, which it always brings, of virtue and happiness. Our pride and passion, by which we are naturally, and | choice, governed, conduct us only to guilt and suffering. So long as their dominion over us continues, we daily become more sinful, and more miserable, as children become during the continuance of their rebellion against their parents. The first step towards peace, comfort, or hope, in this case, is to attain a quiet, submissive spirit. That God will order the things of the world as we wish, ignorant and sinful as we are, cannot be for a moment believed. The only resort, which remains for us, therefore, is to be satisfied with what he actually does; and to believe, that what he does is wise and good, and, if we will permit it, wise and good for us. To be able to say, Thy will be done, says Dr. Young, “will lay the loudest storm;” whether of passion within, or affliction without. Children, when they have been punished, are often, and, if dutiful children, always more affectionate, and dutiful, and amiable, than before. Just such is the character of the children of God, when they exercise Evangelical Resignation under his chastening hand. Every one of them, like David, finds it good for himself, that he has been afflicted; an increase of his comfort; an increase of his virtue and loveliness. As this disposition regards events not yet come to pass, its effects are of the same desirable nature. For the wisdom and goodness, the fitness and beneficial tendency, of all that is future, the pious mind will rely with a steady confidence on the perfect character of God. With this reliance it will regularly believe, that there is ood interwoven with all the real, as well as apparent, evil, which from time to time may take place. With this habitual disposition in exercise, the resigned man will be quiet and satisfied, or at least supported, when j are borne down; and filled with hope and comfort, when worldly men sink in despair. All that dreadful train of fears, distresses, and hostilities, which, like a host of besiegers, assault the unresigned, and sack their peace, he will have finally §. to flight. . and serenity have entered the soul: and the pirit of truth has there found a permanent mansion. Whatever evils still remain in it, his delightful influence gradually removes, as cold, and frost, and snow, vanish before the beams of the vernal sun. He will yield God his own place and province, and rejoice that his throne is prepared in the heavens, and that his kingdom is over all. His own station he will at the same time cheerfully take with the spirit of a dutiful and faithful subject, or an obedient child; ioconfide in the divine Wisdom for such allotments as are best suited to make him virtuous, useful, and happy. In this manner he will disarm afflictions of their sting, and deprive temptations of their danger, and his spiritual enemies of |. success, by quietly committing himself and his interests to the disposal of his

Maker. In this manner he will become effectually prepared for that glorious and happy world, in which all these evils will have passed away; and be succeeded by a new, divine, and eternal, train of enjoyments. In this manner the work of Righteousness in his mind will be peace, and the effect of Righteousness, quietness, and assurance for ever.



[ocr errors]

Mark Xii. 31–And the second is like : namely this ; Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these

IN several preceding discourses. I have considered the great du. ties of Love, Reverence, and Humility, towards God, and Resignation to his will ; and given a summary account of the other duties of Piety. I shall now proceed to an examination of the Second Command. In this precept, we are required to love our Neighbour as ourselves. In canvassing the duty, here enjoined, I shall consider, I. Its Nature; and, II. Its Eatent. I. I shall make a few observations concerning the Nature of this duty. Before I proceed directly to this subject, it will be proper to remind my audience, that, in the discourse concerning }. considered as an Attendant of Regeneration, I exhibited it at length as a disinterested disposition; and, in this particular view, exhibited its Nature, so far as is necessary to this system. Nothing further will be needed under this head, except an explanation of the degree, in which we are required to love our neighbour, expressed in the words as thyself. This phraseology has been very differently understood by dis. ferent persons. Some have supposed it to contain a direction, that we should love our neighbour with the same kind of Love, which is exercised towards ourselves. This plainly cannot be its meaning. The love, which we usually and naturally exercise towards ourselves, is selfish and sinful. §. a love, as this, may be, and often is, exercised towards our children, and other darling connex. ions; and wherever it exists, is, of course, sinful; and canno!, therefore, have been commanded by God. At the same time, it is physically impossible, that we should exercise it towards our fellow-creatures at large; the real objects of the affection required in the text; as I shall have occasion to show under the second head. Others have insisted, that we are required to love them in the same manner, as ourselves. This cannot be the meaning. For we love ourselves inordinately; unreasonably; without candour, or equity; even when the kind of Love is really Evangelical.

« AnteriorContinuar »