« PoprzedniaDalej »
II.-Peculiar glory and peculiar peril go together. Human nature is an unspeakable entrustment; but for that very reason, it is exposed to awful abuse. Man may sacrifice his princely heirship to his lowest craving. The simple beast having no organ for the life of the Divine Understanding, is quite innocent in its perfect abandonment to animal life. It is no reproach to the horse and the mule to live exclusively the horse, and the mule-life. the wondrous creature, man, whose animal nature is the tabernacle of his celestial nature, cannot give himself over to intensify and aggrandize the life of his senses, and be innocent.
As might be expected, some men sink the brute in the angel: others, the angel in the bruteThe former direct their ambition towards true honor and glory; the latter towards the sensual honor and glory of the present world. The men who shew a decided preference for the angel-side of their nature, and whose aim it is to perfect it, find a cross in the opposite side of their nature. On the other hand, the men who have as decided a preference for their external nature, and its interests, degrade, and in the end, ruin their angelic partner. God calls man to a very transcendent life; but a very degenerate life is also open to him.
If he yields his spirit to the Divine attractions, he becomes God's mirror, reflecting the Divine Image, on the very confines of the creation. But as hell more than touches the confines, he may be prevailed upon to merge his higher nature in his lower, and thus stand there a mirror of the infernal mind. Instead of responding to the motions of the Holy Spirit, by which his spiritual corruption would be thrown off, and his soul purged; by constantly taking up the corruption of the flesh into his already sensual spirit, his degeneracy is becoming more and more aggravated and confirmed. There is celestial, and there is infernal, gravitation; but he is rapidly losing all relation with the former and falling a prey to the latter. He knows better than to sacrifice the Divine possibility of his being, in favor of the brute honors and pleasures of the worldly life; therefore, if knowing the better he commits himself to the worse, he afflicts his eternal being with the curse of sin. Sin is the curse of curses; it is the hell of hell.
There are "honors so called, which are the devil's man-traps. "The kingdoms of the world and the glory of them" are a bait not easily resisted. But honors which are bounded by the
grave are no great credit to an heir of eternity. Can that glory which has no relation to his immortal nature be worthy of him? The mortal man flourishing for a few days in his laurel-leaf honors, and the inner man, going into eternity, without a crown, and in dishonor, are not an enviable condition. O Belshazzar, thy Babylon is a fool's dream: thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting. Thy glory is extinct; a very ignominious future is before thee. O man, thou art of more value than many such worlds as this. God has designed for thee a very great inheritance. If thou art so fallen that thou canst not discern the greatness and worth of thy nature; at least, that Redemption which God has wrought for thee, might help thy conjectures. Has not God become flesh for thee? Believe it, thy stake is infinite. The right hand road and the left are before thee; the devil persists, and proves to thee by myriads of attractions, that the left hand road is not left, but right. O that the light and courage of God may be in thee to tell the Tempter, that it may be his right hand road, but that it is thy left. Or, pause, fall down on thy knees, cry mightily for help on the Divine Man, Christ Jesus, that He would shew thee thy right way; and rise and pursue that way, though it should seem to thine own senses to be
the left hand road of loss, loneliness, and suffering. It is better to contradict the whole of nature, together with our own fleshly affections and convictions, than be untrue to our deeper divine nature. "The things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." The whole visible appearance of mankind from the beginning unto the present generation is but as the passing flash of a meteor, compared with the value of a single eternal, invisible man. What a solemn mockery are the honors of the mortal man, if the eternal man is condemned before God! What is the man profited who has had the honor that is but for a moment, if he is to inherit shame and sorrow for ever? Or, the man who has run through his short career in the honors and pleasures of time, and who finds that his soul, which might have been redeemed, is finally ruined;what shall this man give to get his soul brought back again to the days of probation? No answer! “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" No answer!
IV. The course of God for man, is always from lower things to higher, from life to life, inferior to superior. The course of nature is birth and death, but the Divine order for human life is
birth, and birth, and birth. First, man comes a sensuous creature into a sensuous world, an illusion to an illusion. Secondly, by believing the testimony of God, and submitting himself unto God, this twofold illusion is greatly corrected by an interior spiritual birth. The latent powers of his soul are quickened into activity, and he walks by faith in a world which transcends every appearance, that can be presented to his senses. His soul being quickened out of heaven, his affections are raised into heaven. He dwells on that objective world, which corresponds with his new subjective condition, and rejoices in the prospect of seeing it face to face. His faith is the evidence of things not seen, by which also he overcometh the world that is seen. In due time the new interior life of his spirit altogether outgrows the capacities and sympathies of his first nature. Therefore, in the beautiful order of God, there comes a third birth, the grand release, his translation from the unreal to the real; and he finds himself in a world every way congenial to his new nature, adequate to the far reach of his thoughts, and in perfect sympathy with his chastened, hallowed affections. He sees before his eyes, the glory and joy of that life, which is established within him. His outward circumstanes