« PoprzedniaDalej »
I do not urge you to this as a thing exacted: invite you to meditate on the gentleness, the forbearance, the parental sympathy of God toward you: I invite you merely to withdraw your minds from wrong impressions of the divine government and your deserts : I call you to consider the blessings laid up for you, and of which those already received are but as the shadow : I beseech you to contemplate God as “opening his hands and filling all things living with plenteousness;" and then to go on, and looking upon the effects of enmity with the source of joy in eternity, to remember He has proposed a way of peace and glory through his dear Son; and then, I ask no more; I am satisfied you cannot be ungrateful; I am persuaded you must love your God;
I am sure that nothing but the most deluded, as well as sinful state of mind, can keep you back from him. “ Praise now waiteth for God in Zion !" Add then your voices, your hearts, to the blessed employment. Practise now that strain in which, if Christians, it will be your part to assist hereafter.
But I err in this exhortation. You find rather your thoughts too deep for utterance; language cannot depict the bursting emotion of your hearts : you feel, you know not how to thank arigbt Him to whom you owe all that you have, and all that you are for time and eternity. Let the text still comfort you. It teaches, “ Praise is silent for thee, O God, in Zion.” If you cannot describe, you can adore. If you find it impossible to give utterance to your feelings, you can at least, with the early Church, yea, with the worshippers before the throne, bow in devoutest meditation,
"Come, then, expressive silence, muse his praise."*
Still, brethren, though you do not speak, there is a way of evincing your gratitude. The stars in their course are silent, “yet is their voice gone into all the world, and their sound to the ends of the earth.” There is a language more forcible than
* A celebrated historian of antiquity observes, - "Parvi affectus loquuntur, magni tacent." — "Small affections speak, great are silent."
that of words : this the text suggests. It is obedience. Yes, it is the recalling the thoughts of our affliction, the perfecting the desires of moments in which, as we walked along the shore of eternity, our minds were more impressed with its vastness and profundity, and the consequent necessity of living to Christ. “Unto thee shall the vow be performed !" Brethren, there is no greater guilt than that of a broken vow! You may not, indeed, have made distinct engagements of this kind with God; (though it is probable that some, during their lives, have done this ;) at all events, by Baptism, most, and by Confirmation and the Lord's Supper, many of you are under solemn promises to the Almighty, and may say with David, “Thy vows are upon me, O God!”
Have you then broken these vows by sin? Alas! who almost has not! Have you thought and lived differently from what you intended when affliction was your monitress ? “Let the time past suffice to have wrought” such wickedness. “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God;" confess your guilt ; approach as suppliants his mercy-seat: make the Saviour your friend : entreat for the aid of the renewing Spirit : be not satisfied without a return of the holy, tender affections of your first dedication to the LORD. Ask yourselves, “Where is the blessedness we once enjoyed ?" Perform now your vows: let this day be the beginning of a new life to you; a life of prayer, and praise, and fidelity; a life of preparation for eternity; a life of holy accordance with your privileges and your mercies, “The LORD waiteth to be gracious" to the returning sinner. “ He will bless you with his favor and the light of his countenance, and shall go on your way rejoicing.”
[The following sermon, prepared for a special occasion, is selected for publication in the "Pulpit” at the request of a friend, and not from any partiality of the author.)
ADMONITION TO THE YOUNG:
BY HARRY CROSWELL,
RECTOR OF TRINITY PARISH, NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT.
1 John ii. 13. — "I write unto you, young men."
The preacher, whether inspired or uninspired, must always feel a great degree of solicitude for the young. That this was the case in the days of inspiration, the whole volume of God's word abundantly testifies; and we daily witness more than sufficient to convince us, that this solicitude has not diminished in any subsequent period of the world. The spiritual welfare of the young is still an object near to the preacher's heart: and though he may often address them, and again and again renew his theme, he never finds the subject exhausted, nor less deserving of deep and devout consideration. To-day, I again write unto you, young men, of the things which belong to your eternal peace.
But before I proceed in language of my own, let me turn back to the teachings of a preacher, who, in addition to the rich endowments of human wisdom, possessed also the gift of inspiration. This preacher was Solomon: and it is not too much to say, that in endeavoring to impress his solemn admonitions upon the minds of the young, he adverts to some of the most awakening considerations that are to be found in the whole compass of divine revelation. After speaking of the vanity of earthly things, and of the evils attendant upon the decay of the natural powers, and the decrepitude of old age, he treats of the awful realities of death and a future judgment, in terms of great force and striking sublimity. But let us attend to his language: “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them: while the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened.” And here he adds a variety of impressive images, descriptive of the declension of the bodily strength, and the decay of the organs of sense; and then subjoins the several considerations which are designed to give effect to the admonition already delivered. “ Because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets : or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel be broken at the cistern: then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” And, finally, he thus sums up his solenn admonition: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Eccles. xii.)
Such is the teaching of Solomon. Such is the manner in which the inspired preacher writes to you, young men, of the weighty concerns of time and eternity. And, surely, a better model cannot be found in the sacred volume for our present lessons of instruction. In writing to you, at this time, what admonition can be more seasonable than that which the wise man enforces by so many momentous considerations ? An early devotion to the service of God, is the duty to be enjoined upon you. And the first consideration that presents itself in favor of this early devotion, is, that it secures your immediate and lasting happiness. It is not sufficient to say, that to remember, or, in other language, to obey your Creator in the days of your youth, is one of the sources of happiness; but we are bound to say, that it is the only source of happiness. If you would avoid the evil days, which always follow procrastination and delay, enter at once, on the first call of God, into his service. Take the earliest dawning of gospel light, the very first fruits of the morning, to obey and follow your Lord and Master. Delay not, until you have contracted evil and inveterate habits ; until vice has spread contamination over your soul, and the example
of the world has gained a corrupt and baleful influence over your passions. There are evil days to come, when your vices will prove an irksome burden, and when the world will mock your calamities; and the years are drawing nigh in which you can find no pleasure, if this admonition has been disregarded, and the service of your God rejected.
But we have other considerations to set before you. Have you thought of the dangerous tendency of deferring the means of securing the enjoyments of time and the awards of eternity, under the delusive hope that other opportunities will be afforded, when you may find yourselves better prepared for the performance of this duty ? If not, I admonish you at once to chase this traitorous hope from your bosom. Go with me, and read a contradiction of this flattering and false idea, in records which will not deceive you :
-I mean, the records of death. Go with me and learn wisdom, where it is taught by mute but unerring monitors : - I mean, among the monuments which parental affection bas erected to the memory of departed youth. Go with me, and stand by the side of the new-made grave; for even the silent grave will teach you a lesson of truth on this subject. Go with me to the school of experience : experience is a severe preceptor; but, nevertheless, a preceptor “ that never palters with us in a double sense ; that keeps the word of promise to the ear, and breaks it to our hope.” Go with me, and inquire of the first fellow-traveller to eternity whom you meet, whether there can be any circumstance in the condition of man, to warrant procrastination and delay. All, all will answer with one voice, and experience will confirm the answer, that now is the time to remember your Creator; that now is the time to serve your divine Master; that now is the time to escape the evil days, and the years of wo that are drawing nigh.
But this consideration is frequently brought home to your bosoms in a manner more especially calculated to teach the danger of delay. In the mysterious dispensations of heaven, a voice speaks to you, young men, which you cannot disregard. Few are the months, or weeks, or days, that pass away without presenting cases to your observation which completely verify