Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

us to question and therefore to inquire whe-| ed of “that fulness of joy"--of that “crown ther we are the subjects of divine grace; of life"-of that "everlasting kingdom which whether we are the “heirs of promise;" God hath promised to them that love him ?" whether we have a title to heaven, and are What would it be to lose your business, your in a fair way to obtain this blessedness. health, your friends, compared with the loss

Now the thought of missing this rest is of the soul ? surely enough to awaken in you this pecu- And remember, there is no medium beliar concern—especially when you consider tween heaven and hell—if you miss the one, two things: the possibility of your coming the other is unavoidable. short; and the consequence of your coming And remember, also, the aggravations short.

which will attend the misery of those who First. To excite in you this fear, remem- perish in your circumstances. There is nober the possibility of your coming short. And thing so healing, so soothing, as the expectahere let me mention a fact which should make tion of hope ; and of course there is nothing you tremble. It is this out of six hundred so tormenting as the disappointment of it, esthousand Israelites, who came out of Egypt pecially where the object is vastly important. to possess the land of Canaan, two only en- What then can equal the regrets and horrors tered But what is this to us? Hear how those will feel who shall come short of eterthe Apostle applies it.“ Moreover, brethren, nal life! What will be their reflections I would not that ye should be ignorant, how when they see that the blessing was attainathat all our fathers were under the cloud, and ble, but that their own folly had deprived all passed through the sea; and were all bap-them of it! And when they discover their tized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; mistake, but, alas, too late to rectify the error! and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and -A timely fear would have prevented all did all drink the same spiritual drink: for this. they drank of that spiritual rock that followed Yea, remember also, that you will not only them: and that rock was Christ. But with be disappointed in coming short—but you many of them God was not well pleased : for will be punished for it. Your perdition will they were overthrown in the wilderness. be your greatest sin. You could not be lost Now these things were our examples”—adds without contemning the authority of God, the Apostle. They are emblems and warn- who commanded you to believe on the name of ings to us. We here behold persons, under a his Son Jesus Christ, and trampling under foot dispensation of peculiar privileges, considered his mercy and his grace. You offend him as the people of God, delivered from their even more by your unbelief than by your inienemies by the most wonderful displays of quity. The Gospel has its threatenings, as Divine power; clothed in garments unim- well as the Law; and after the one has conpaired by wearing, or by time; and whose demned you for transgressing its commands, meat and drink were not only miraculous, the other will condemn you for the rejection but sacramental—and, after all this, we see of its remedy. Thus, as the Apostle says, them perishing under the wrath of Heaven. the word you hear will “ prove the savour of “Wherefore," says the Apostle again, “ let death unto death.” How then can you eshim that thinketh he standeth” high in the cape if you neglect so great salvation? If Divine favour, and is perfectly secure, “ take you could even elude the curse of the law, heed lest he fall." Let him not depend on you would have to encounter the damnation external privileges; on gifts; on being bap- of the Gospel. What then think you of both? tized in his infancy; on his partaking of the “Can thy heart endure, or thy hand be strong, memorials of the Saviour's death—or a thou- when he shall deal with thee?"- _.“ Let us sand other things, which are no certain proofs therefore fear.” of salvation. Persons may go far, but not far And observe, how far the Apostle extends enough; they may be convinced, but not con- the admonition—“Let us fear, lest any of verted ; like Saul, they may have another you seem to come short of it." We see that heart, and not a new one. And indeed no- he applies it to all: deeming none below the thing is more common than delusions of this benefit of caution, and none above the nekind. Oh! how many there are who say, “Icessity of it—lest "any of you.” And he apam rich, and increased with goods, and have plies it to all in the greatest degree. Lest need of nothing; and know not that they are any of you—what! should come short? No wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, -but seem to come short. He not only forand naked!" Oh! how many are there who bids us to go back-but even to look back. entertain confident hopes of heaven, that will He would have as not only avoid the reality never see it! They are pillowed up on the — but the appearance of evil. He would bed of carnal security—die like lambs—and have us not only possess religion, but " adorn awake with the devil and his angels! " Let the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. us therefore fear."

He would not have us remit our caution and But, Secondly. Consider the consequence our zeal in the smallest degree, so as to renof coming short. Is it not dreadful to be depriv- der our adherence to the truth suspicious, or

our declension from the ways of God proba- | truth of the promise—but only makes a man ble. He would not have you to leave your anxious to ascertain whether he has any part eternal state in the least uncertainty; or live or lot in the matter. so as to awaken doubts in others, and to lead And should this be carelessly decided ! the people of the world to say—“Ah! they Can a man in such a case be too safe or too are yielding by little and little; they cannot certain? Is it not much better to be even throw off every thing at once—they will soon needlessly distressed for a time, than to be join us again.” We are, like the patriarchs, deceived for ever? Is it not better to have a to “declare plainly that we seek a country” troubled conscience than a seared one ? " To —and not puzzle our neighbours to deter- this man, says God, will I look, even to him mine whether to consider us at home, or only that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and that as strangers and pilgrims upon earth. We trembleth at my word.” " Pass the time of are not w be doubtful characters, so that no your sojourning here in fear. Be not highreader can make any thing of us, or say minded, but fear. Work out your salvat:on whose hand the writing is; but we are " to with fear and trembling." be manifestly the epistles of Jesus Christ, Indeed, this fear seems to be unavoidable known and read of all men.” “ Let us there from the very nature of the case. Whoever fore fear, lest, a promise being left us of en- attends to the workings of his own mind, well tering into his rest, any of you should seem knows that the proposal of any great or unexto come short of it."

pected benefit always produces a variety of To conclude. Let us observe, first, how emotions. Wonder is the first: this is inthankful we should be for such a promise left stantly succeeded by joy--but there is anus of entering into his rest! For surely we other feeling which also immediately seizes could not have reasonably expected it. Had the mind and works very powerfully—and we been informed that God was about to give this is solicitude-care to attain and secure us a revelation from heaven, our guilty minds it-fear, lest after all we should not realize would have foreboded nothing but tribulation the possession of it. And this is what our and wrath, vexation and anguish, upon every Saviour means when he says, “ The kingdom soul of man that doeth evil. This we deserved of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field: —but behold, he speaks—and his “thoughts the which when a man hath found, he bideth, are thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to and for joy thereof goeth, and selleth all that bring us to an expected end." The address he hath, and buyeth that field.” This hiding is to tell us of a remedy for our disease; a is not in order to secresy, but safety : for as refuge from the storm ; a passage from this by hiding things we commonly secure themworld of misery into a better, even “ a hea- the one is put for the other; and this explanavenly country.

tion accords with the experience of every o what welcome intelligence is this ! awakened soul. For in proportion as you How much did we stand in need of such a prize salvation, and desire it, and apprehend discovery, such an assurance as this! Our it to be necessary-will be your fear of comearth is a vale of tears; creatures are broken ing short of it. Indifference does not generreeds and empty cisterns: our mortifications ate fear-No-but conviction does, and so are frequent; our pains numerous; our en- does attachment. joyments unsatisfying ! Surely man walk- Lastly. What are we to say of those of eth in a vain show !"-But he is not com- you who know nothing of this salutary conpelled to walk so now. There are realities cern? Perhaps, if some of you were to speak attainable; there is satisfaction; there is rest. what you feel, you would say, That the loss “ He hath showed thee, O man! what is good. of this rest was the least of all your fears. It Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at never disturbs your repose by night, nor empeace, thereby good shall come unto thee.” bitters your enjoyments by day. Whenever Do not, do not resemble the Jews of old : “ to the thought enters, you consider it as an inwhom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye truder and soon expel it. All your fear is may cause the weary to rest, and this is the limited to the world and the present life. refreshing :—yet they would not hear.” You fear for your health, and are alarmed

Let us, secondly, see how necessary it is when any unfavourable symptoms appear. in religion to avoid passing from one extreme You fear for your business; your fortune; into another. The Gospel encourages our your estate, and cannot deem yourselves too hope : but then it enlightens it, and guards it. secure. “ You ask, what shall I eat, and what It tells us not to refuse to be comforted;" but shall I drink, and wherewithal shall I be it teaches us to blend a holy jealousy with clothed ?" But you never inquire, " What our confidence, and “ to rejoice with trem- must I do to be saved ?" bling.” Some people seem to consider the And yet what is every other interest to fear of which we have been speaking, as le- this?—And do you imagine that this greatest gality and unbelief—whereas it is promoted of all concerns can be managed or secured by an evangelical frame of mind, and is the without attention or care? Do you think cffspring of faith. It does not question the that leaving the boat to the stream will bring

rou safe—while you are asleep, or at play? | which was lost. He was delivered for our -This may do if you wish to sail down with offences, and was raised again for our justifithe stream and be carried into the gulf be- cation. “ All things are now ready." But low. But the course to heaven lies against you are to be made ready too. Hence the the stream-and helm and oars and labour dispensation of the Gospel, and all the adand diligence are indispensably necessary. vantages with which you have been indulged. Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being By these, I mean your having been born in left us of entering into his rest, any of you a land of vision where the Saviour of the should seem to come short of it.” Amen. world is known. I mean, your having en

joyed the blessings of the Reformation, which

gave each of you the Scriptures in your moDISCOURSE XXX

ther tongue;- in the original, the Bible would have been no more to you than a fine

well of water covered by a rock, which you REVIEW OF LIFE.

could not move, or as so many beautiful pic(LAST DAY OF THE YEAR.)

tures hung up in a dark room; but now the

stone is rolled away from the well's mouth, And God requireth that which is past. and these pictures are placed in open day. Eccl. iii. 15.

I mean, your having had the word of life, not With God, nothing is past; nothing is fu- only to read, but also to hear. I mean, your ture. I AM is his name, and this is his "me- having had ministers to call you to repentance, morial in all generations." “One day with to warn you of your danger, to beseech you the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thou- in Christ's stead to be reconciled unto God. sand years are as one day."

I mean, the various ordinances of the sancThe very reverse of this is the case with tuary, and all the helps to seriousness and deus. For with us, nothing is present: all is votion which the goodness of God has afforded futurre, or past. Thus a man stands by the you. These means of grace are unspeakably side of a river, and sees something swimming important, and you have had them in rich down the stream-now it is above him—and profusion: you have had “ line upon line, and now it is below him—but it never abides precept upon precept.” During the past year before him—so of all the things that befall only you have to account for fifty-two sabus in this world, to use the language of the baths, and perhaps more than one hundred poet,

sermons ! What influence have all these " We can never say, they 're here,

had upon your minds ? Are you crucified But only say, they 're past."

to the world? Are you denying yourselves, But when they are gone by, we have not and taking up your cross, and following the entirely done with them. Some conse- Saviour ? Are your affections more spiritual, quences do remain, and others ought to re- your principles more powerful, your minds main—" And God requireth that which is more enlightened ? Must we address you as past.” He demands an account of the past our Lord did his disciples, “ Are ye also yet --and this we shall have to render hereaf- without understanding ?" or as the apostle ter: he demands an improvement of the past did the Hebrews, “When for the time ye -and this we must attend to now.

ought to be teachers, ye have need that one Let us then apply this to a review of our teach you again which be the first principles MEANS---to a review of our MERCIES—to a of the oracles of God; and are become such review of our SORROWs—and to a review of as have need of milk, and not of strong our sins. We cannot have a better opportu- meat ?" nity for this exercise, than the present season, Oh! let me call upon you to review all when we are closing another period of our your opportunities and means of instruction short and fleeting time. While therefore the and improvement, and compare yourselves few remaining sands of the year are running with them. See whether the end of them out, let us remember, that God requires “ that has been answered at all; and whether your which is past”

proficiency has been proportioned in any deI. A REVIEW OF OUR PAST MEANS AND gree to the number and value of your privi

God judges of things as they leges. Do not think your concern with them are: he knows that the body is nothing to the is all over—"God requireth that which is soul, or time to eternity. He has therefore past.” What is become of these advantages ? graciously provided for our spiritual and ever- To what purposes have you applied them? lasting welfare. He remembered us in our Where are the fruits of them?—They were low estate, and devised a way in which his given you as talents to improve; and if they mercy could be exercised in harmony with have been useless, be assured they will prove his justice. This purpose of grace, formed injurious. If they do not save, they will conbefore the foundation of the world, was ac- demn; and if they are not the “savour of life complished in the fulness of time. The friend unto life,” they are the “ savour of death of sinners came to seek and to save that unto death."

o

PRIVILEGES.

CIES.

The proprietor of the vineyard said, “Be-, observe these remarkable interpositions themhold, these three years I come seeking fruit selves, and to say with David, “ Bless the on this fig-tree, and find none.” Observe this. Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his beneYou see God distinctly notices how many tits." Nothing can impress or influence our seasons of unprofitableness people have minds when it is forgotten. We should passed through. And if he thought of cut- therefore recall our mercies, and place them ting down this tree because in a favourable full before us, that we may feel whether we situation it had yielded nothing for three have rendered according to the benefit done years only, what can he resolve but the im-us. How much of our insensibility and inmediate destruction of those individuals who gratitude springs from inattention and a bad have been fruitless under the means of grace memory! and how well may it be said of for ten, twenty, perhaps forty or sixty years ! thousands, as it was of Israel, “ Of the rock Surely the vine-dresser himself cannot im- that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast plore for such, one year, one month, one forgotten God that formed thee!" week more! " He that being often reproved As it is so necessary to keep things in the hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be de- mind, and as our memories are so treacherstroyed, and that without remedy."

ous, it would be well for us, in every possible II. HE REQUIRES A REVIEW OF PAST MER- way, to aid our recollection, and to endeavour

When humble and attentive minds to preserve and perpetuate those good feel look back, their mercies appear so many that ings, which our mercies produce when we it is impossible to enumerate them. And receive them. Thus “ Samuel took a stone hence divines have taught Christians to serve and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and their mercies as botanists do flowers—to class called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hithem: or as astronomers deal with the stars therto hath the Lord helped us.” And thus -to form them into constellations. They Joseph, by the very names of his children, tell them, in looking back, to think of mer- would recall the wonders which the Lord had cies temporal and spiritual; mercies public shown him: “ Joseph called the name of the and private; mercies personal and relative. first-born Manasseh : for God, saith he, bath They tell them to think of continued mercies, made me forget all my toil, and all my farestored mercies; and of preventing and de- ther's house. And the name of the second livering mercies. They would have them called he Ephraim: for God hath caused me also fix their minds on particular instances--to be fruitful in the land of my affliction." for instances affect much more powerfully And hence the command given to Ephraim; than things in a mass. They teach them also "Set thee up way-marks, make thee high not to overlook the circumstances which en- heaps; set thine heart toward the highway, hance their blessings; such as are derived even the way which thou wentest: turn from their seasonableness, their utility. Take again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these their advice, and pursue this plan.

thy cities." How many times has he lulled you to sleep If we had indulged a person year after year in his arms; fed you at his table; clothed you all through life, should we not require him from his wardrobe! How often has he sup to think of it; to be sensible of our kindness, plied your wants, and wiped away tears from and to behave towards us in a manner be your eyes! When brought low, has he not coming his obligations? There is nothing helped you? When in jeopardy, has he not perhaps we feel more painfully than the undefended you? When sickness has alarmed grateful reception of the favours we bestow: your fears, has he not led you back from the and a very few instances of unthankfulness gates of the grave? When accidents have are sufficient to induce us to discontinue our been ready to destroy, have not “all your benefits. What then does God think of us ? bones said, who is a God like unto thee!" In Not only are the expressions of his goodness how many cases has he given us favour in the infinitely more numerous than any favours eyes of our fellow-creatures; and blessed us we can show our fellow-creatures, but they with the advantages and pleasures of friend- are all undeserved. Our fellow-creatures ship! From what low and obscure beginnings have claims upon us, and we are bound, as has he raised some of us in the course of his we have opportunity, to do good unto all men. wonder-working providence ! and how well But God is under no obligation to us. All does it be me us to compare the former, his bounty is grace; and therefore, if he is when with our staves we passed over Jordan, continually doing us good, and filling our with the present, when we are become two hearts with joy and gladness, surely he exbands, and have all things richly to enjoy! pects that the language of our lips, and of our

There are few persons who in looking back lives, should be, " What shall I render unto are not able to perceive some very striking the Lord for all his benefits towards me! displays of Divine goodness. We do not wish He requireth that which is past." And he people to be forward to publish these to the demands, world-many of them would not be, and could III. A REVIEW OF OUR PAST SORROWS AND Dot be striking to others; but they ought to I. DISTRESSES. With all our supplies and in

dulgences, you have had your hours of trou- 1 more? one reason for loving heaven more, ble; and have found this world to be a vale and do I love it less ?" of tears. Can you forget those seasons in Past afflictions should also teach us not to which your worldly comforts fled, your re- be too much dejected or dismayed in prospect freshing gourds withered, your beloved friends of future ones. For how has it been with us? and relations were removed by death ?-Oh! We feared as we entered the cloud, but the never the wormwood and the gall" of such cloud was big with mercy, and poured down -and such an affliction—"my soul hath it blessings. What terrified us in imagination, still in remembrance, and is humbled within we bore with cheerfulness. When the day me." And be not afraid to think of it. By of trial came, we had grace to help in time of the sadness of the countenance the heart is need; and it was found sufficient for us. And made better;" it is made more serious, and our God is the same, and has promised that more soft; and thus the soil is improved for he will never leave us nor forsake us. wisdom, and truth, and devotion to flourish in. And, oh! happy is he who, in reviewing Do not derive your morals from the school of his griefs

, can say, “Well, so many of my the world. Their maxims are imperfect op troubles are gone for ever. So many steps position “to the Spirit which is of God." of my wearisome journey I have taken-and They endeavour to banish from their minds the hour is not far off that shall end the toilevery thing that has a tendency to do them some pilgrimage.”good. Hence when troubles befall them, the design of which is to bring them to reflec

"O most delightful hour, by man

Experienc d here belowtion, they do every thing in their power to The hour that terminates his span, escape a sense of them, and to prevent the

His folly and his wo! remembrance of them. And thus the kind

“Worlds should not bribe me back to tread and salutary purposes of Heaven, in afflict- Again life's dreary waste; ing them, are disregarded, and they go on

To see my days again o'erspread

With all the gloomy past. thoughtlessly, till the “evil day” comes upon them with all its horrors and surprise.

“My home henceforth is in the skiesAs our troubles are designed to do us

Earth, seas, and sun, adieu ;

All heaven unfolded to my eyes, good, not only in experience, but also in re

I've no regret for you." view, we should labour after a practical remembrance of them. They have been lost IV. GOD REQUIRES US TO REVIEW OUR upon us, unless they have made us wiser, PAST SINS. Many of these have grown out more sober-minded, and less disposed to ex- of our privileges, our mercies, and our trials. pect a rest below the skies. We should They have been attended with singular agjudge of the future by the past, and conclude gravations. They are more in number than that life will be what it has been, a che- the hairs of our head. In many things we quered scene; and that no condition, no con- offend all. nexion, will afford us unmixed happiness. It is well

, if upon a review of the year, we Surely, after the experience of years of can exculpate ourselves from sins committed vanity, we should begin to gird up the loins against man—but what are these compared of our minds, and to declare plainly that we with the offences which we have committed seek a better country. Surely these disap- against God! Indeed all sin is really compointments and regrets urge us to say, with mitted against God. There is not a duty David, “ And now, Lord, what wait I for? which we owe our fellow-creatures, but he my hope is in thee;" or with Micah, " There- has enjoined the observance of. He has comfore will I look unto the Lord, and will wait manded us to love our neighbour as ourfor the God of my salvation; my God will selves, and therefore every deviation from hear me !" We cannot now plead ignorance: this rule is a transgression of his law, and a our dreams have been disturbed : we are provocation of his anger. But when we awake-and it is high time to arise. It is judge ourselves more immediately in relation high time that the trifler should become a to him, when we consider what he has rightman, and the man a Christian.

eously required of us, and reflect upon our It is an awful thing to come out of trouble: omissions of duty, and our actual departures for it always leaves us better or worse than from him, in thought, word, and deed, we

We should therefore ask, with are compelled to exclaim—"Who can underpeculiar concern—“What benefit have I de- stand his errors ?". The review is painfulrived from such a visitation of Divine Provi- but it is useful, it is necessary. dence? The rod spoke—did I hear its mes- It will lead us to admire'the longsuffering sage? The physician has been employed—is of God, in bearing with us year after year. my distemper even beyond the reach of medi. Though we have proved such cumberers of cine? I have lost the life of my friend-and the ground, he has still spared us. Though have I lost his death too? My relation has we have so often provoked him, he has not entered the joy of his Lord-I have one rea- destroyed us. We may look upon each other son for loving earth less, and do I love it | this evening with astonishment, and say, "It

it finds us.

« PoprzedniaDalej »