Obrazy na stronie

"We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets." But he will reply, "I never knew you; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity."

What then must we think of men whose sensibilities are all asleep on the heart-stirring themes of the gospel? Knowledge, indeed, they may have; that knowledge which puffeth up; philosophy, falsely so called, that starts a thousand foolish questions, and genders an abundance of strife and vain babbling; that pries into mysteries never revealed, displays a wonderful skill in threading the labyrinths of a metaphysical theology, and contends fiercely enough, if not for the faith once delivered to the saints, yet for its own favorite dogmas. But is this religion? If a man thus makes his head a sort of ice-house to keep his heart in a state of perpetual coldness; if his soul can slumber over those truths and glories which fill all heaven with transport; if he can sleep over a world perishing in sin, at the dawn of the millenium, and in view of such motives as drew the Son of God from his throne to a cross-can he possess the spirit of apostles, or of the divine Lord and Master?

5. Here we find a full answer to the charge of excessive zeal în religion. Its quality may be wrong; but there is no danger of there being too much of the right kind. Is it possible to feel, or sacrifice in this cause more than the gospel requires, or its spirit would prompt; more than our own immortal interests, or those of a perishing world imperiously demand; more than prophets, apostles and martyrs actually did? Who is more fired with holy enthusiasm than Paul was? or more than saints and angels in heaven will forever be ?

Beware, then, how you censure a degree of zeal which you do not reach, and cannot fully appreciate in others. Look first to yourself; for a cold heart is a bad judge in such a case. With the spirit of Christ glowing in your bosom, would you censure them? Take care lest you betray your own deficiencies, contravene the whole tenor of the Bible, and reproach some of the best men that ever lived. Measure the intensity of that love which brought the Savior from his Father's bosom to the cross; drink, yourself, a few draughts from that tide of holy, rapturous emotion which will pour through paradise forever; inquire of the martyr as he gazes on the opening visions of eternity, and in his chariot of fire mounts up to glory; ask all the worthies of the church in past ages, all the master-spirits of heaven; and then say, if you can find, even in this excitable age, a degree of seal equal to the exigencies of the case,

But whence these charges of enthusiasm? From the sincere,, devoted follower of Christ, or even from men who would fain extinguish all enthusiasm, or censure that of the student and the poet, the orator and the patriot, or frown on that spirit of enterprise which is hewing down our forests, and constructing our canals and railways, whitening every sea with our sails, and wafting home to our bosoms the riches of every clime? Yes; go to the man who is daily straining all his powers to reach a high point of professional eminence; go to the devotee of pleasure who feeds his jaded sensibilities with novels, theatres and other fashionable amusements; go to the miser who sacrifices himself, soul and body, a whole burnt-offering at the shrine of Mammon; go to a man like the late ravager of Europe, his bosom a volcano of enthusiasm, whose lava desolated a continent; and these are the very men whom you will find, though all ablaze themselves in chase of this world's vanities, yet loudly reprobating enthusiasm in matters of religion.

6. But genuine zeal is the grand desideratum of the age. A thousand voices from every quarter of the world, from heaven, and from hell, are calling loudly for a far higher degree of it than the church has ever reached. God enjoins it. The Savior expects it. The gospel deserves it. Motives from three worlds plead for it. Six hundred millions going down to their graves in sin cry aloud for it. All the benevolent enterprises of the day most deeply need it. It is indispensable to sustain revivals of religion, and prepare the way for that revival of a thousand years which shall one day encircle the globe, and send its saving influences into every human family. The angel having the everlasting gospel to preach, is waiting for it. The promises of God in his word, the openings of providence, the dawning glories of the millenium, all most imperiously demand it. Breathe the zeal of prophets and apostles, the spirit of Christ himself, only a small portion of heaven's enthusiasm, into all that bear the Christian name; and how soon would the hosannahs of our whole race blest with the privileges of the gospel, rise to mingle with the anthems above unto Him who hath loved us, and given himself to die for us-unto whom be glory forever. AMEN.




ACTS xxiv. 25.-Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

HERE is a specimen of human folly. When Paul "reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled" under his bold and pungent appeals; but, while conscious of his guilt, fully apprised of his danger, and urged by the strongest motives to instant compliance with the terms of the gospel, he coolly resolved on persisting in sin, and postponing repentance to such a time as he should himself deem convenient.

Impenitent sinner! do you not see in this example an image of yourself? Reflect. Do you purpose, never to repent? Do you really mean to die in your sins? No; you expect one day to accept that gospel which you have heard and slighted so long. Against this delusive expectation, so fatal to thousands and millions, we have often warned you; but you heed not our warnings, because you fondly hope to find a season for repentance more convenient than the present.

No matter what excuses you plead for this delay. I shall not stop now to examine them, or even to inquire why you put off this grand business of life, and leave your immortal interests afloat on the uncertainties of a future season. I wish to learn how you contrive, while living in sin, to cherish the hope of ever preparing for heaven. If

[ocr errors]

unwilling to repent Now, what reason have

will EVER repent?

you to expect

that you

1. The state of mind which leads you to hope for a more convenient season, is the main obstacle to your salvation. It is the nucleus of all your sins; the sheet-anchor that holds you in rebellion against God; and, till you renounce it, he must look upon you as a determined rebel. You may imagine, that your purpose to repent some time or other is a virtual compliance in prospect with his demands; but what does he require of you? To repent next week, next year, in old age, in sickness, on the bed of death, just when it may chance to suit your convenience or your wishes? No; God insists on immediate repentance; and your delay is direct disobedience to his plain and oftrepeated commands. Your purpose to repent, not now, but at some future day, is the very point which he requires you to abandon; and if you entrench yourself in this purpose, you take the readiest way to seal your everlasting ruin. If unwilling to repent now, you are in faet unwilling to repent at all; nor would you, with your present disposition, repent in old age, in sickness, amid all the agonies of death, amid the brightest glories of heaven, or the deepest horrors of hell t

2. But delay will only aggravate this state of mind. It is increas ing your reluctance to repent. Repetition confirms all our habits. Sö with the voluptuary, so with the miser, so with the devotee of ambition, so with every class of transgressors; and you need not trace their progress far, to discover that sinful habits grow with our growth and strengthen with our strength. Is the delaying sinner exempted from this law of our nature? Can he continue impenitent withoutwincreasing his reluctance to repent? Is not every day, every hour, bringing him nearer and nearer to a degree of obstinacy that will prove fatal to his soul?

3. Meanwhile the external obtacles to repentance are multiplying. The world, the flesh and the devil are daily augmenting their power over the heart, and twining around the sinner cords more and more

difficult to be broken. Business, cares, pleasures, temptations of every sort are thickening along his path.

Delaying youth! if you cannot surmount the obstacles which now obstruct your return to God; if you cannot now deny your sinful appetites and passions; if you cannot now break from your irreligious associates, and stem the tide of influences adverse to your immediate conversion, when will you? Are not these and similar obstacles continually increasing? While the world is thus gaining every day a stronger hold on your heart, do you expect ere long to break away from her enchantments?

Will the pleasures of youth soon pass away? Very true; but they will be followed by cares still more urgent and absorbing. Most of you are already too intent on worldly schemes to think much, if at all, of your souls. Engaged on your farm, in your shop, your study, or your counting-room, you find no time, you feel no disposition to repent. Will continuance in such a course prepare you for repentance? Ask the student long devoted to his books, or the miser grown gray in search of wealth, or the devotee of ambition still eager in the chase of honor and power. Do you find them more disposed than formerly to accept the overtures of redeeming love?

4. But delay will render the work of repentance more difficult, by increasing your guilt, and confirming your habits of sin. Your transgressions are more numerous now than they were one week ago; and every day, every hour, every moment is adding to their number and aggravation. Your habits of impenitence may eventually become inveterate. Sinful habit is often well nigh invincible. It is not a mushroom that springs up in the night, and may be cut dowa at a blow in the morning, but a sturdy oak winding its roots around the rocks, lifting its head above the clouds, and there bidding defiance to the peltings of the storm, to the fury of the tempest, to the hottest and heaviest thunderbolts of heaven.

If you know the power of habit, would you think to overcome it

« PoprzedniaDalej »