Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

5. The sons of God, who possess a truly filial spirit, are afraid of offending him.

They stand in awe, and sin not. They stand in awe of the great power of God, which they know that it is impossible for them to resist. They stand in awe of his holiness, which is infinitely removed from every tincture of moral impurity. They stand in awe of his justice, knowing that he will reward every man according to his work. They stand 'in awe of his omniscience, which penetrates the recesses of the heart. But the attribute which they principally revere, and the recollection of which is the chief restraint from sin, is the goodness of God, his unbounded, unchangeable goodness. Every ingenuous feeling of the mind revolts at the thought of offending so kind a friend, so liberal a benefactor, so wise and so indulgent a parent, whose commandments they cannot violate, whose authority they cannot resist, without entailing disgrace and misery upon themselves. They are likewise apprised that the goodness of God, under

the direction of consummate wisdom, will oblige him to punish wilful transgressions with just severity, till his offending children are brought to a due sense of their folly and their crime, and with a truly penitent and contrite spirit implore his mercy with humble and sincere resolutions of amendment. The anger of God is not an uneasy feeling of resentment, nor are his punishments unreasonable or vindictive. What is called anger in God, is benevolence acting under the direction of wisdom. The punishments which he inflicts are the correction of a wise and tender parent for the benefit of the offending child. And they who are animated with the filial spirit of the gospel are restrained from sin, lest the goodness of God itself, and his own kind purposes in their favour, should make it necessary to visit them for their transgressions.

6. Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. The afflictive events of life are every where represented in scripture as the discipline of a wise and good parent. And

this representation is agreeable to the soundest reason; for every event is under the direction of divine Providence, and afflictions themselves are sent for purposes the most beneficent. They are intended to soften and to meliorate the heart, to render vice odious, to check extravagant affections to sensible objects, to form a generous, tender, and sympathising spirit; to direct to the pursuit of those objects and gratifications which are worthy of the highest and best affections; to lay a foundation for the purest, most exalted, and permanent pleasures.

With these views of the unspeakable advantages, which are to be derived from affliction, which are acquired from the gospel alone, and which are confirmed by daily experience; they who possess the filial spirit of the Christian religion learn not only to abstain from all fretfulness and murmuring under the visitations of divine Providence, but also to bear losses, sufferings, and bereavements, with quiet submission, with dutiful resignation, with cheer

ful hope, and even with gratitude and thankfulness. After the example of the venerable high priest, when forewarned of the ruin of his family, they will say, it is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good. And, in imitation of the still brighter example of their suffering Master, they will pray-Father, not our will, but thine be done.

7. Communion with God is the duty and the pleasing employment of those who are entitled to the character of the sons of God.

With what sacred pleasure will they who are truly animated with the filial spirit of the gospel, from time to time retire to their closets to meditate upon the attributes of their heavenly Father, upon his guardian providence, upon his faithful care, upon his paternal kindness, upon his allsufficiency, upon his unerring wisdom, upon his boundless, unchangeable, everlasting. mercy. With what unspeakable satisfaction, will they reflect upon all the past dispensations of his providence, and the way

by which he has conducted their steps through this anxious, busy, and perplexing scene. With what unutterable delight will they commune with him concerning the goodness and the truth which he has caused to pass before them, and what inexpressible relief does it afford to their burdened spirits to give vent to all the fulness of their heart in the presence of an omnipotent, a faithful, and a compassionate friend, to spread their difficulties and their sorrows before him, to express their earnest desires after a growing conformity to his image, and a complete resignation to his will; the unfeigned concern which they feel because of the imperfection and the unsteadiness of their virtue, their earnest solicitude to be preserved from temptations beyond their strength, and to be placed in circumstances favourable to moral improvement. With what ineffable satisfaction do they cast their · cares and burdens upon him who careth for them! and reposing their entire confidence on his paternal wisdom and goodness they acquire a calm composure, a fixed

« PoprzedniaDalej »