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lorsqu'on la considere dans une vue abstraite, qu'estelle pourtant en elle-même? Qu'est-elle par rapport à vous, par rapport à moi, par rapport à chaque particulier qui la compose, et qu'une même loi va bien-tôt entrainer dans le tombeau ? Une seule voie nous est ouverte, pour sortir de ces labyrinthes. Une seule reponse peut satisfaire à cette question. La terre est un lieu d'exercise; la vie est un tems d'épreuve, qui nous est donné, afin que nous options, pour une félicité, ou pour une misère éternelle.
When thou art angry, all our days are gone.
PSALM Xc. 9. SPEAKS not the heart a quick affirmative to this, that having once known what it is to have the light of God's love upon our tents, has seen it obscured, even no more than with a passing cloud of wrath too consciously deserved ? Does it not seem so.
Comes there not a darkness over the mind that seems a perpetual and eternal midnight? The judgment that before could see so distinctly every turning of the intricate path of righteousness, can now no more discriminate-it falters, hesitates, and likely mistakes its way. The faith that was before so firm, begins to waver-there are doubts, and difficulties, and uncertainties, that were not there before. The confidence--that beautiful abandonment of every thing to the care of him who careth, that firm reliance upon the promise of him who never lies--where is it all? Perhaps he does not care-perhaps he has not promised, or he is not true. Alas! it is all gone. Who can walk confidently, certainly, and exactly, in the dark? But what has caused the darkness? Why is the sun so suddenly gone down? What has obscured our judgment, and weakened our faith, and shaken our confidence? Even this—we provoked him and he was angry--he was angry and all our days are gone. Those who once sat in darkness, have seen a great light: but if that light is withdrawn, where should they be again
but in the darkness? And it is withdrawn, whenever, by sin indulged, God's anger is provoked: it came with his countenance, and it departs when that countenance is averted. It has been feared by some, that confident trust, and simple reliance on the merits of another, as in the Gospel inculcated, may lead to indulgence and carelessness of life. Let them be content. The moment the life becomes careless, and sin is indulged, the anger of God is kindled—the light grows dim—the confidence is shaken, the faith is obscured, and the day is for that time gone. The remembrance of it may encourage the soul to penitence, and lead it humbly to wait for the returning light-but it will not enable it to walk contentedly and boldly in the darkness.
SAVIOUR’S SERMON ON THE MOUNT.
LECTURE THE SEVENTEENTH,
No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate
the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon: -MATT. vi. 24.
It is delightful to follow the divine Composer of this best of sermons; as in brief simplicity of words, seemingly no more than a succession of plain precepts, he combines in these often unconnected sentences, argument, proof, and reasoning at once--all that the most intricate discussion could suggest, in the pleadings, if we may so call them, of the eternal God against his guilty creatures. Some persons, whose love for the Bible does not extend to the whole of it, who are averse to the more doctrinal parts of Scripture--they say because they
do not understand them, but really because understanding they do not like them-attempt to shelter themselves under this most beautiful portion of the divine word, which they take to be a mere moral code, in their rejection of the peculiar doctrines of the gospel; as if there were indeed a difference between the doctrine of Christ during his ministry on earth, and that of the inspired apostles who succeeded to it. They have little digested the words of this discourse who think so--they are not a succession of mere moral precepts, that, affecting the outward conduct only, require no change of principle in the heart, and leave men to adjust their faith to whatever creed they please. On the contrary, there is in the whole sermon a train of reasoning carried on, and doctrine exhibited, in perfect conformity with the full system of the gospel; wanting nothing to complete it, but that which the Preacher was about to add, not in word, but in deed--as if in closing his sermon he had said, so far I have told you of the truth; follow me to Calvary, and you will see the rest.
Jesus began his discourse by declaring the preference of God for a people whom the world, in its established maxims, had not preferred, and pronouncing his blessing upon
those whom the world had not esteemed blessedthe self-abased, the sorrowful, they who desire holiness more than their necessary food, and are willing to be reviled and persecuted for its sake. And with the objects of his blessing, he describes the nature and the value of it-comfort, joy, and satisfaction in time-rank and inheritance through all eternity. But where were these objects of his preference so described—what heads received the blessings as they fell? His disciples, his followersthey who had left all and braved all, to unite themselves in common cause with him. The personal application of the words follows immediately on their utterance—“YE are the salt of the earth, the light of the world.” But lest the distinction between his disciples and the world should not be fully perceived, lest some should take the blessing for whom it was not intended, the Saviour goes on to discuss at great length the discordance that in old time, and at all times since man egressed from Paradise, had subsisted between him and his creatures, for which they stand before him condemned and rejected; and to show the necessity there was that those who called themselves his disciples, and were reconciled and restored, should come over to his mind, and be agreed with him in all things in which he stands at variance with the world. What the unregenerate are, and what the believer must not be, comes thus to be minutely discussed the characters are placed in perpetual opposition the world is convicted of wrong in every thing-even its best things min most things the avowed opinions of men are wrong -or where these are right, their conduct is often not conformed to them or where both opinion and conduct are right, the secret motive, the hidden principle is in the wrong: their worship, their prayers, their kindliest dispositions towards each other, their very devotions to the Deity--all are in the wrong; and the contrast of their characters is made the standard of Christian excellence, “Be not like anto"_" But thou”-is the language addressed throughout to those whom God distinguishes with his approbation and his blessing.
But whence is all this discordance? Are not all these the creatures of God? Have they not his laws written on their hearts, delivered to them from his mouth, registered in his own eternal word? They hear, they read, they profess to know-what is the matter that they come to no agreement? Jesus takes no direct notice of this he enters on no regular discussion--but passing at once from the consequences to their cause, he pronounces a truth, that without any immediate connexion with what has been said, answers the question and explains the whole. Nay, these few and simple words are a comment upon the conduct of the whole world, that solves, as it were, the riddle of all our contradictions and inconsistencies, the opposition to our own interests, and blindness
to our own advantage, and falseness to our own professions. Two powers, in direct opposition to each other, claim our service. A few of us determine boldly for the wrong master-serve him heartily and honestly, take his wages,
and say we are content. Another few I wish they be not the fewer-determine for the right master, and unworthily yet honestly serve him—prefer his wages, though we cannot earn them—will take hire of no other, lést he disown us—fighting his battles ill, but forsaking not his colours-cowards and poltroons often, but foregoing our allegiance never. The greater number, in Christian countries at least, are trying to serve both masters; and the consequences are exactly what the Preacher says they will be. . Look around, look within, and see if it be not so.
We need not describe what our Master is who claims our services, nor the right he has to them. It is He who made us, and gave us, with existence, the means, the laws, and the ultimate object of existence. He is God-all to us that that great word implies. The other power is expressed by a most comprehensive term, the fittest that could have been selected to express the meaning. It is a Hebrew word, signifying riches, gain–from its supposed derivation, any thing that is trusted or confided in. This is what is often called in Scripture the world, not meaning the people of the world, but the things of the world—our pleasures, interests, and possessions in it-essentially our riches, our Mammon. It may be gold dug from the deep mine, it may be honour won from the suffrages of men, it may be sensual indulgences, extracted from the properties of nature, it may be mental gratification of the powers or passions of our own minds -all are alike our riches or what we esteem such; and so far as they are opposed to, or separate from the laws prescribed by our Maker when he created us, or to the purpose for which he created us, they are the Mammon here spoken of. "Ye cannot serye two masters :" their commands so