Obrazy na stronie

complacency in the divine attributes, and gratitude to the divine goodness, which, combined, constitute the purest and most acceptable love to God; which, if properly encouraged, will gradually over-rule every inferior affection of the heart; which will ultimately vanquish and expel all slavish fear, and will fill the sons of God with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

3. The methods by which God communicates instruction to mankind are various and interesting, and no character better becomes those who profess to be the sons of God than a humble, teachable spirit.

God teaches by his works. The invisible things of God, even his eternal power and godhead, are clearly to be understood from the operations of his hands. The whole world is full of God: and they who look up to God as to their Father, will delight to trace his footsteps in the phenomena of nature, in the revolutions of the seasons, in the vicissitude of night and day, in the course of the winds, in the ascent of vapour; in the thunder, the lightning, and the

storm; in the growth of vegetables; in the formation of animals; in the production, the support, and happiness, of the human species; and in the wonderful construction, wise and beautiful arrangement, and the diversified motions of the celestial bodies. They will see the great name of God inscribed in radiant characters on all his works: and the minutest, as well as the largest and most magnificent objects of the creation, will demonstrate to the virtuous and reflecting mind the presence,

the power, the wisdom, the goodness, and the majesty of God!

God also teaches by his providence. He speaketh once, yea twice, and the giddy, thoughtless multitude perceive it not. But the sons of God hear his voice, and listen with attention to the lessons of wisdom which he imparts. They trace his omnipresence and his almighty power in the support and the preservation of the universe and its inhabitants: they discern his goodness in the provision which he has made to supply the wants of the animal creation, and in his

kind regard to his rational offspring: they mark his justice, and his aversion to moral evil, in the shame and misery which is the natural consequence of vice; and they learn his great mercy in the forbearance which he exercises towards sinners, and the opportunities which he affords, and which he continues and repeats for repentance and reformation; and from that inward unspeakable

peace, and even from the general outward prosperity which accompanies a virtuous course, they are led to conclude that virtue is acceptable to the Supreme Being, and that it is the only means of securing his present blessing and his final favour.

But it is from the word of God that his genuine children derive the clearest and the most impressive lessons of wisdom and piety. In the Jewish scriptures they learn the unity of God, and they read much of his unrivalled majesty, his universal government, his uncontrollable power, his omnipresence and omniscience, his spotless purity, and impartial, inflexible justice. But it is in the revelation of the gospel that


the mercy of God is exhibited in the most conspicuous and engaging form, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto men their trespasses; and opening to the view of every sincere and humble penitent the glorious prospect of forgiveness, acceptance with God, and eternal life.

4. The sons of God yield a ready, cheerful, and persevering obedience to his commands.

They cannot dispute his authority. He is their maker, their preserver, their supporter, and benefactor: their righteous moral governor, and their wise and beneficent father: to him they owe allegiance, homage, and cheerful, uniform obedience. His commandments are not grievous, but in the highest degree reasonable and expedient. Having just views of the wisdom, and of the love of God, his dutiful children are firmly persuaded that all his laws originate in benevolence; and that he requires nothing of his creatures but what is indispensably necessary to their happiness; so that they are then yielding the most acceptable

obedience when they are using the most effectual means to secure their own truest enjoyment. And this consideration induces them to obey without hesitation precepts which occasionally thwart the most favorite inclinations, which require vigilant and resolute self-government, and sometimes enjoin severe and long-continued self-denial. They learn by experience that the path of duty, at first rugged, gradually becomes smooth and pleasant, and always leads to the abode of peace. Hence, the obedience which they pay to the divine commands, is not the reluctant obedience of a vassal to a tyrant, or of a slave to his master: but the cheerful homage of a dutiful son to a wise and affectionate parent, in whom he places the most entire confidence; to whom he yields the most implicit submission; of whom he is persuaded that he never acts from caprice; but that from the superior extent of his views, he discerns the propriety and necessity of many injunctions, the expediency of which is not obvi. ously apparent

« PoprzedniaDalej »