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I might quote many other passages to the same purpose; but you have heard enough to satisfy you that I am supported by the highest authority when I say, that all the blessings we possess are the gifts of God, the effects of his free and unmerited liberality.

This doctrine, as I observed in the entrance, hath none of the charms of novelty to recommend it. But is it on that account less needful to be insisted upon

? Most assuredly it is not. I believe we shall find, upon inquiry, that the most obvious truths are universally the least regarded, and therefore have most need to be frequently brought in view, that men may be constrained to . bestow some attention upon them, and to consider the influence they ought to have upon their temper

and conduct. I am afraid that we judge of spiritual things in the same absurd manner that we judge of temporal things; I mean, that we put a fanciful value upon them, and do not rate them according to their intrinsic worth and real useful

ness.

We see every day, that earthly things are estimated, not by their use, but by their scarcity; insomuch that, in common language, the words rare and precious are convertible terms; though, in fact, the things that are truly precious, because most necessary, instead of being rare, are scattered abroad with the greatest profusion. Thus doth God dispense temporal benefits; the best,

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that is, the most useful, are universally given out in greatest abundance. And it may justly be affirmed, that spiritual blessings are dispensed in the same way. The most comprehensive blessing, the unspeakable gift of Jesus Christ, is of all others the most free and liberal, being offered “ without money and without price,” to every sinner of mankind, without exception; and actually conferred

upon all who, feeling their need of a Savi. our, are made willing to receive and rest upon him alone for pardon, and peace, and complete salvation. In like manner, the great rules of duty, and the truths that are best adapted to purify our hearts and reform our practice, are dispersed as it were around us in the greatest plenty and variety. God, who hath appointed our work, hath likewise limited the season for doing it; and therefore, that we may not lose a moment, the most useful and necessary instruments of action are laid so near us, that we need only stretch forth our hand to take hold of them. Were they placed at a distance, the opportunity of acting might frequently pass away before the proper means and instruments were got ready. But such wise and effectual provision is made, that no man shall have it in his power to plead this excuse. If any piece of duty be left undone, it cannot be owing either to the want of a plain rule to direct our conduct, or of sufficient arguments and encouragements to move us to action, but to

the inattention, or pride, or stubbornness, of our own hearts.

This affords a glorious display of the wisdom and goodness of our great Lawgiver and Judge. But, alas! we thwart his merciful intentions. Overlooking what is near, we roam abroad in quest of other things, that lie at the remotest distance from us, and have the feeblest influence upon our temper and practice. Such is our folly and perverseness, that, despising the most important truths, because they are common and obvious, we run away in the vain pursuit of abstruse and intricate speculations, which have no other effect than to puzzle the head, or to warm the imagination, while they leave the heart dark, and cold, and insensible.

To correct this false taste, by recalling mens attention to the most simple and practical truths, ought, in my apprehension, to be the principal aim of a gospel-minister. When these have got full possession of mens hearts, and appear in the fruits of a holy life, then, if we find leisure, we may seek after new discoveries ; but surely necessity should have the first disposal of our study and labour. Life is short, and souls are precious ; and therefore things of eternal consequence ought in all reason to be preferred. They who choose to gratify the curious, by telling them new and strange things, may indeed raise the reputation of their own invention ; but they do it upon the

ruins of a far more excellent thing, I mean, that charity “ which vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, and seeketh not her own;" and as they have no higher aim than to serve themselves, it is but just they should be left to rewards themselves as they can.

We are commanded in Scripture, to be “ ready to every good work;" that is, to be in such an habitual posture for service, that with facility we may enter upon action so soon as an opportunity presents itself.

But we shall never acquire this promptness and facility, till the mind be furnished with some fruitful principles of action; and the more simple and obvious these principles are, the more readily will they occur to us, and the greater authority and influence will attend them. Of this kind is the proposition I have been endeavouring to illustrate. The truth of it is obvious to the meanest capacity ; and yet such is its fruitfulness and energy, that some of the sublimest duties of the Christian life are virtually included in it, and may with ease and certainty be dedu. ced from it.

To select some of these practical lessons was the second thing proposed; to which I now proceed.

1st, If all the blessings we possess be the gifts of God, the effects of his free and unmerited kounty, then surely we ought to be humble. This

is the particular improvement which the apostle directs us to make of this doctrine in the close of my text : “Who ñaketh thee to differ from ano. ther ? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive ? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it ?

This reasoning is so plain and simple, that a child may understand it; and yet so perfectly just, that it will abide the severest trial ; nay, the more accurately it is examined, the stronger will it

appear. Did we keep this single principle in our eye, that it is God who maketh us to differ, that alone might be sufficient to give a check to our pride, and to inspire us with humility. Did we view all our present advantages as gifts freely bestowed, to which we had no previous title or claim; then every additional blessing would only remind us of our indigence before we received it; and the greater and more numerous the benefits conferred upon us were, the greater debtors should we judge ourselves, the more deeply should we feel our dependance upon God, and the less disposed should we be to glory in ourselves.

2dly, From the same principle, and with equal ease and certainty, we may deduce our obligation to thankfulness and praise. Humility and gratitude, these kindred graces which constitute the proper temper of a Christian, are inseparable companions. They give mutual aid and support to each other, and both take their rise from the perVOL. III.

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