Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of providence be used ; but let us carefully see to it, that it be in a moderate and prudent manner, lest by your own folly, that which should have been for our welfare, become a trap". Let conscience say, my dear reader, with regard to yourself, what proportion of the good things you possess, your heavenly Father intends for yourself, and what for your brethren ; and live not as if you had no brethren, as if pleasing yourself, in all the magnificence and luxury you can devise, were the end for which you were sent into the world. I fear this is the excess of the present age, and not an excess of rigour and mortification. Examine therefore your expences, and compare them with your income. That may be shamefully extravagant in you, which may not only be pardonable, but commendable in another of superior estate. Nor can you be sure that you do not exceed, merely because you do not plunge yourself in debt, nor render yourself incapable of laying up any thing for your family. If you be disabled from doing any thing for the poor, or any thing proportionable to your rank in life, by that genteel and elegant way of living which you affect, God must disapprove of such a conduct; and you ought, as you will answer it to him, to retrench it. And though the divine indulgence will undoubtedly be exercised to those in whom there is a sincere principle of faith in Christ, and undissembled love to God and man, though it act not to that height of beneficence and usefulness which might have been attained; yet be assured of this, that he who rendereth to every one according to his works, will have a strict regard to the degrees of goodness in the distribution of final rewards: so that every neglected opportunity draws after it an irreparable loss, which will go into eternity along with you. And let me add too, that every instance of negligence indulged, renders the mind still more and more indolent and weak, and consequently more indisposed to recover the ground which has been lost, or even to maintain that which has been hitherto kept. §. 13. Complain not, that this is imposing hard things upon you. I am only directing your pleasures into a nobler channel; and indeed that frugality which is the source of such a generosity, far from being at all injurious to your reputation, will rather, amongst wise and good men, greatly promote it. But you have far nobler motives before you, than those which arise from their regards. I speak to you as to a child of God, and a member of Christ; as joined therefore by the most intimate. union to all the poorest of those that believe in him. 1 speak to you as to an heir of eternal glory, who ought therefore to have sentiments great and sublime, in some proportion to that expected inheritance.

* Psal. lxix. 22.

§.14. Cast about therefore in your thoughts, what good is to be done, and what you can do, either in your own person, or by your interest with others; and go about it with resolution, as in the name and presence of the Lord. And as the Lord giveth wisdom, and out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding*, go to the footstool of his throne, and there seek that guidance and that grace which may suit your present circumstances, and maybe effectual to produce the fruits of holiness and usefulness, to his more abundant glory, and to the honour of your christian profession.

The established Christian breathing after more extensive Usefulness.

"O BOUNTIFUL Father, and sovereign author of all good, whether natural or spiritual! I bless thee for the various talents with which thou hast enriched so undeserving a creature, as I must acknowledge myself to be. My soul is in the deepest confusion before thee, when I consider to how little purpose I have hitherto improved them. Alas! what have I done, in proportion to what thou mightest reasonably have expected, with the gifts of nature which thou hast bestowed upon me, with my capacities of life, with my time, with my possessions, with my influence over others! Alas! through my own negligence and folly, I look back on a barren wilderness, where I might have seen a fruitful field, and a springing harvest! Justly do I indeed deserve to be stripped of all, to be brought to an immediate account for all, to be condemned as in many respects unfaithful to thee, and to the world, and to my own soul; and in consequence of that condemnation, to be cast into the prison of eternal darkness! But thou, Lord, hast freely forgiven the dreadful debt of ten thousand talents. Adored be thy name for it! Accept, O Lord, accept that renewed surrender, which I would now make of myself and of all I have unto thy service! I acknowledge that it is of thine own that I give theef. Make me I beseech thee, a faithful steward for my great Lord; and may I think of no separate interest of my own, in opposition to thine!

* Prov. ii. 6. f 1 Chron. xxix. 11.

“I adore thee, O thou God of all grace, if while I am thus speaking to thee, I feel the love of thy creatures arising in my soul; if I feel my heart opening to embrace my brethren of mankind Oh make me thy faithful almoner, in distributing to them all that thou hast lodged in mine hand for their relief! And in determining what is my own share, may I hold the balance with an equal hand, and judge impartially between myself and them! The proportion thou allowest, may I thankfully take to myself, and those who are immediately mine ! The rest may I distribute with wisdom, and fidelity, and cheer. fulness! Guide mine hand, O ever merciful Father, while thou dost me the honour to make me thine instrument in dealing out a few of thy bounties; that I may bestow them where they are most needed, and where they will answer the best end! And if it be thy gracious will, do thou multiply the seed sown"; prosper me in my worldly affairs, that I may have more to impart to them that need it; and thus lead me on to the region of everlasting plenty, and everlasting benevolence There may I meet with many, to whom I have been an affectionate benefactor on earth; and if it be thy blessed will, with many, whom I have also been the means of conducting into the path to that blissful abodel There may they entertain me in their habitations of glory! And in time and eternity, do thou, Lord, accept the praise of all, through Jesus Christ; at whose feet I would bow; and at whose feet after the most useful course, I would at last die, with as much humility as if I were then exerting the first act of faith upon him, and never had any opportunity, by one tribute of obedience and gratitude in the services of life, to approve its sincerity"

* 2 Chron. ix, 10.

CHAP, XXIX. The Christian rejoicing in the Views of Death and Judgment.

Death and Judgment are near; but the Christian has Reason to welcome both: Ş. 1. Yet Nature recoils from the Solemnity of them, § 2. An Attempt to reconcile the Mind, [I.] To the Prospect of Death, $.3. From the Consideration, (1.) Of the many Evils that surround us in this mortal Life, §. 4. (2.) Of the Remainder of Sin which we feel within us, S. 5. And, (3.) Of the Happiness which is immediately to succeed Death, §, 6.7. All which might make the Christian willing to die in the most agreeable Circumstances of Human Life, §. 8. [II.] The Christian has Reason to rejoice in the Prospect of Judgment, §. 9. Since, however awful it be, Christ will then come, to vindicate his Honour, to display his Glory, and to triumph over his Enemies, §. 10, as also to complete the Happiness of every Believer, §. 1 1. and of the whole Church, S. 12, 13. The Meditation of a Christian whose Heart is warm with these Prospects.

§. 1.Wurs the visions of the Lord were closing upon John, the beloved disciple, in the island of Patmos, it is observable, that he who gave him that revelation, even Jesus the faithful and true witness, concludes with those lively and important. words: He who testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly ; and John answered with the greatest readiness and pleasure, Amen, even so come, Lord Jesus" / Come, as thou hast said, surely and quickly —And remember, O christian, whoever you are that are now reading these words, your divine Lord speaks in the same language to you : Behold, I come quickly. Yes, very quickly will he come by death, to turn the key, to open the door of the grave for thine admittance thither, and to lead thee through it into the now unknown regions of the invisible world. Nor is it long before the judge who standeth at the doort, will appear also to the universal judgment: and though, perhaps, not only scores, but hundreds of years may lie between that period and the present moment, yet it is but a very small point of time to him, who at once views all the unmeasurable ages of a past and future eternity. A thousand 3/ears are with him but as one day, and one day as a thousand 3yearsł. In both these senses then does he come quickly: and I trust, you can answer with a glad amen, that the warning is not terrible, or unpleasant to your ears; but rather, that his coming, his certain, his speedy coming, is the object of your delightful hope, and of your longing expectation.

* Rev. xxii. 20. + James v. 9. 1 2 Pet. iii. 8.

§ 2. I am sure it is reasonable it should be so ; and yet perhaps nature, fond of life, and unwilling to part with a long known abode, to enter on a state to which it is entirely a stranger, may recoil from the thoughts of dying; or struck with the awful pomp of an expiring and dissolving world, may look on the judgment-day with some mixture of terror. And therefore, my dear brother in the Lord, (for as such I can now esteem you,) I would reason with you a little on this head, and would intreat you to look more attentively on this solemn object, which will, I trust, grow less disagreeable to you, as it is more familiarly viewed. Nay, I hope, that instead of starting back from it, you will rather spring forward towards it with joy and delight.

§ 3. Think, O christian, when Christ comes to call you away by death, he comes to set you at liberty from your present sorrows, to deliver you from your struggles with remaining corruption,-and to receive you to dwell with himself in complete holiness and joy. You shall be absent from the body, and be present with the Lord *.

§. 4. He will indeed call you away from this world. But Oh, what is this world, that you should be fond of it, and cling to it with so much eagerness How low are all those enjoyments that are peculiar to it; and how many its vexations, its snares, and its sorrows Review your pilgrimage thus far; and though you must acknowledge, that goodness and mercy have followed you all the days of your lifet, yet has not that very mercy itself planted some thorns in your paths, and given you some wise and necessary, yet painful intimations, that this is not your rests / Review the moments of your withered joys, of your blasted hopes; if there be yet any monuments of them remaining more than a mournful remembrance they have left behind in your afflicted heart. Look upon the graves that have swallowed up many of your dearest and most amiable friends, perhaps in the very bloom of life, and in the greatest intimacy of your converse with them; and reflect, that if you hold it out a few years more, death will renew its conquests at your expence, and devour the most precious of those that yet survive. View the living, as well as the dead: behold the state of human nature, under the many grievous marks of its apostacy from God; and say, whether a wise and good man would wish to continue always here. . Methinks were I myself secure from being reached by

* 2 Cor. v. 8. + Psal. xxiii.6. 1 Mich. ii. 10. WOL. I. 3 K

« AnteriorContinuar »