« ZurückWeiter »
was gazing on its varied scenery, were an earthquake to rock it upon its deep foundations, until, like the Numidian lion shaking the dew-drops from his mane in the morning, it threw off from its hoary and heaving sides the forests, and flocks, and hamlets, and vineyards; and, were a whirlwind to rush in, at that moment, scattering the broken and falling masses in mid air : still, the voice of the prophet, if it could be heard amidst the convulsions of nature, would exclaim, “ Though the everlasting mountains bow, and the perpetual hills be scattered, yet will I rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of my salvation."
When the Christian finds it difficult to ascertain the path of duty, he will say,-“ Bring me the ephod” — “ Rar* me the Bible!” He will inquire which of these two ways would Paul have chosen ? which would our Saviour have recommended ? He will hear a voice behind him, calling him back, saying, “This is the way. That is the way which covetousness pursues; that the way which lewdness chooses ; that is the way which the lover of the softnesses of life follows: but this is the way, walk ye in it.” No one can say, 'I was distressed about the path of duty; and though I sincerely searched my Bible, and earnestly prayed for direction, yet I went wrong.' The Word of God, and that alone, is competent to settle every doubt, if we are honest in our inquiry.
“ Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” — not 'sparingly, but abundantly-in all its plenitude and riches, let it dwell in your minds. If any thing will bring back the darkness of spiritual Gothicism to Protestant churches, it will be the dereliction of the stated reading of the Bible in public and in private. It is the glory of the national church, in which she deserves to be imitated by all her younger sisters, that in
every cathedral and in every parish church the Old Testament is read through once every year — the New Testament four times and the Psalms of David, which contain so much spiritual devotion and piety, are read monthly.
In the life of Christ there was united the mild majesty of piety, wisdom, and beneficence. His heart was the seat of every virtue. His life was goodness—not in books, not in words, but goodness visible; the perfection of moral and religious excellence, looking through the eyes of man, working with the hands of man, listening to the enfeebled cry of misery with the ears of man, walking from the temple of God to the low habitation of the widow and the orphan with the feet of man. “He went about doing good.” You might follow his course, by palsies healed, by fevers checked, by sight restored to the blind, and hearing to the deaf. You might trace his path ; for there was a glorious stream of goodness which accompanied it through the whole of Judea and of Galilee. He was the glory of the human race. And those scattered rays of love to God, and compassion to man, which shed peculiar lustre on his life, met in happiest assemblage around his cross, in that blaze of redeeming grace and mercy, which draws all men unto him.
Shall the lust of the flesh among them who know not God, bid this man go, and he goeth? Shall the lust of the eye bid that man come, and he cometh ? Shall the pride of life bid another do this, and he doeth it? --- And shall the command of our Father in heaven make no impression on the hearts of his children? Shall the example of the Redeemer not influence the redeemed? --Did the Son of God descend from that throne in the heavens, to which the highest angel in vain raises his eye?-did he descend to purchase with his own blood the benefits of
the Gospel ? And can there be found a man so dead to every good principle, as to withhold his aid in spreading abroad the knowledge of those benefits ?
“ For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.”This passage, when read to an English congregation loses half its original import. We say we are not ashamed of the Gospel. And why should we? We speak of its Divine origin, of its antiquity, of the sublimity of its doctrines, of the superior tone of its morality, of the equity of its precepts, of the benevolence of its spirit, of its high hopes and heavenly prospects. Christianity, with us, is fashionable. The cross is emblazoned on the arms of the great, it is used on military ensigns, it surmounts the stately cathedrals, it is hung as an ornament on the bosoms of our daughters, it is honoured as the emblem of the religion of the land. It was not so with the proud Jew and the speculative Greek. The preaching of the Gospel excited the hatred of the one, the ridicule of the other, and the opposition of both. There were many things connected with it which were calculated to draw forth the hostility and the contempt of the Greek. There were, among other things, the low repute of the country whence it emanated, and of the Man who was its founder. The Jews were despised and disliked by all the surrounding nations; and its Founder was a Jew, an obscure man, of mean parentage, the son of a carpenter, being subject to his father and working at his trade; and when he entered on his public ministry he moved in the lower walks of life, he associated with publicans and sinners; the common people only heard him gladly; the rulers did not believe on him; and a dozen illiterate men, principally Galileans, were bis chosen attendants during his life, and the first heralds of his religion to the Gentile world. And, beside all this, there was the peculiarity of the man's notions. Why, he told his disciples, that if a man wanted them to go a mile with
him, they were to go two; if he would take their coat, they were to give him their cloak also ; and that if he smote them on the one cheek, they were to turn to him the other also. Now, was it likely that such a religion as this would be popular with the men whose fathers had fought at Marathon and Thermopylæ! 0, no! And yet Paul could say, “ I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.”
What! must we cut off a right hand, and pluck out a right eye, if they cause us to offend? Yes; and we must part with any thing else, as dear or dearer, if it prove a snare to us. We make no terms with depravity.
“God is love:” all his perfections and procedures are but so many modifications of his love. What is his omnipo- ! tence, but the arm of his love? What his omniscience, but the medium through which he contemplates the objects of his love? What his wisdom, but the scheme of his love? What are the offers of the Gospel, but the invitations of his love? What the threatenings of the law, but the warnings of his love? They are the hoarse voice of his love, saying, Man! do thyself no harm! They are a fence thrown round the pit of perdition, to prevent rash men from rushing into ruin. What was the incarnation of the Saviour, but the richest illustration of his love? What were the miracles of Christ, but the condescensions of his love? What were the sighs of Christ, but the breath of his love? What were the prayers of Christ, but the pleadings of his love? What were the tears of Christ, but the dew-drops of his love? What is this earth, but the theatre for the display of his love? What is heaven, but the Alps of his mercy, from whose summits his blessings flow down in a thousand streams, to water and refresh his church situated at its base ?
Religion is the rising of the soul to God. God is
every where present; he fills immensity with his presence, and eternity with his power. Good men have a spiritual feeling of his presence ; they see God in his works, and walk with him who
“ Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees;
But his gracious presence comforts and cheers their minds. Bad men neither enjoy nor perceive God any where. With brute unconscious gaze they look upon his works; they see the splendour of the sun, the mild lustre of the stars, the glory of the moon walking in brightness to take her place among the constellations; but they see not God in these, nor in the mighty deep, nor in the mountain which overshadows distant lands: they are without God in the world, and content to be so. But the blessedness of saints below lies in constant intercourse with God. It was in consequence of this conviction that the Chaldean said, “ O that I knew where I might find him!”
Some men, in the indulgence of their iniquitous practices, pacify conscience by the consideration that the long arm of the law — grown to an enormous extent by the crimes of our country — cannot touch them : their conduct, they say, is not illegal. God of heaven! and shall a Christian man square his conduct by an act of parliament, with the express precepts and dread sanctions of Jehovah's law, and the spotless, peerless example of Christ blazing in meridian splendour before his eyes !
Read the account, the catalogue, of the labours and sufferings of St. Paul, as put down in the eleventh chapter of the second book of his work to the Corinthians, and in which he even gloried. Why! the one-half of them