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and purity of his renewed nature. “Whom have I in heaven but thee?” What! none in heaven but God ? See
- there is Abraham; he looks just as he did on the morning of the day that he prepared to offer Isaac on Mount Moriah. And there is Daniel ; don't you see the lions in the back-ground? And there is David ; and he has got his harp with him, tuned to sweeter strains than ever it breathed on earth. And there, too, is the throne of Gabriel ! and that might well fix the eyes of a good man for a thousand years. Yet David says,“ Whom have I in heaven but thee?”
What a blessed state is the state of good men in heaven! In this world, our interviews with the Son of God are “ few and far between ;” but in that state, to which our eyes are directed, and on which our hearts should be set, the intercourse is uninterrupted, and accompanied with increasing joy and gladness. “ We shall be ever with the Lord.” What can that mean — “ to be ever with the Lord?” In the present state, our happiness consists in having the Lord with us, then we shall be ever with him. The eye of man hath seen much, but it hath seen nothing like this; the ear of man hath heard more, but it hath never heard a full and a faithful account of the celestial blessedness. The wild excursive imagination of man, which confines not its wanderings to the visible works of God, but, standing on the verge of creation, looks down into the mighty void where the arm of Omnipotence was never exerted, can form no adequate idea of what God has prepared for them that love him. We must die to learn — and it is worth dying for. It is something great and good beyond our conception of what is great and good. No wonder that holy men have a desire to depart and to be with Christ.
If we love Christ, we will love those in whom we can discern the slightest traces of his image. We should not only love those who are eminently pious, but we should take by the hand and lead on those in whom we see even the smallest marks of personal religion. What merit is there in admiring a rose-bud wet with the dew of the morning? Who would thank a man for loving St. John ? Christ loves the weakest and meanest of his people; and shall we be more fastidious than our Master ?
Scarcely for a righteous man would one die; yet, peradventure, for a good man,- for a Howard, a Hanway, or a Thornton,--some would dare to die; but this is problematical, after all. “ But while we were yet sinners," neither good nor just, “ Christ died for us.” He came to give his life a ransom for many. And as to what he submitted to for our sakes, read his life. He submitted to hunger and thirst, and cold and weariness; he endured the hardships and privations of poverty, the contempt of the proud, and the insults of the rude and vulgar. Say not that his conscious innocence would prevent his feeling so much as we might have done. No; the heart which is purest is the fullest of sensibility. And, besides, he endured the wrath of God, which was our due. He descended from the height of his throne of glory — and Gabriel's eye has not yet reached its altitude — to raise us from our ruined state. His giving himself as an atoning sacrifice for human transgression is such an astonishing act that it cannot be classed with any of his other works.
In this world the Christian is desirous of obtaining larger measures of communion with his God. He says, I leave the things which are behind, and press onward. O, it is dangerous to look back with complacency and satisfaction upon our past attainments! Beware of this! The basilisk's eye is there! When Philip had disposed of some kingdoms he had conquered, and was asked what he had left for himself, he replied, “ hope.” Now, though in him this was a bad principle, the Christian may adopt it. He may press forward to new achievements, higher attainments, and richer enjoyments. Hast thou learnt to “ overcome evil with good ?” press after something higher: hast thou gained the ascendency over a passionate and irritable temper? stop not to contemplate the advantages you have gained. Pride will be apt to rise and swell: press forward to superior attainments, and still press forward till you arrive at the standard of perfection, even Christ Jesus. Happy the mind that is thus enjoying fellowship with God!
In communion with God the soul is divinely quickened to a life of faith; it strengthens the hope of the heavenly inheritance. Nobody that sees that poor old man just come from the isle of Patmos, with the mark of the irons on his withered arms, would expect that he had any great prospects. Yet he could say, “ Have fellowship with us." “What!” a man would say, looking at the mark upon his wrist, “ have fellowship with you! where's the boon?" Hear him: “ truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” It did not then, indeed, appear what he should be ; and the world will not give us credit for our pretensions.
Speak not of the imperfections and irregularities of church members. In God's name, is Jesus Christ answerable for their miscarriages? Whatever cause of holy sorrow these facts may minister, the argument should be applied quite another way. If this man has turned his back upon the Saviour, I press his cause with more ardour to this panting bosom. Christianity, lovelier in tears, shall become dearer to my heart when her cause languishes and suffers.
Bitter is the profit that apostates receive. Ask Balaam,-ask Judas, who, with all their knowledge of truth and of the Saviour, were rotten at the core — ask them what were the mighty benefits they derived from their delinquency? Go to Leicester—and mark the crest-fallen Wolsey, and he will tell you, “ Had I served my God as diligently as I have served my king, he would not have forsaken me in the hour of my extremity.” Would John Knox, would Luther, would Cranmer, or any of the worthies that grace the pages of the church's history,—would they have spoken in this manner at the hour of their dying ?
Enjoying as we do the benefit of divine institutions, let us be concerned to bring others also “under the cloud.” When Andrew first found Jesus of Nazareth, he ran away immediately to his brother Philip, and said, “ We have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write.” Now, one of the best evidences we can give of the exalted esteem in which we hold the Son of God, is a concern that our brothers, sisters, our relatives and friends, should partake with us of the blessings of God's covenant; and a man will find it difficult to reconcile with common honesty, the idea that he cherishes an exalted opinion of the Saviour, while he never speaks a word in his behalf to his family, nor ever puts up a prayer for the salvation of his children. While you enjoy the instituted ordinances of religion, neither despise them nor make a God of them.
I appeal to your reason, whether the Author of our being, where he is known, is not disobeyed, and his laws despised. Where is the man who grows pale at the threatenings of God? When a man reads a threatening in the word of God that applies to himself, and every body sees it, is his own conscience alarmed ? The sanctions of our holy religion have been made the theme of the drunkard's song and the infidel's triumph. Are not the injunctions of the gospel despised by multitudes of baptised people? Is not the authority of God trampled upon ? Take hold of a man by his vanity, and you may lead him wherever you please. Take hold of that young man by his licentiousness, and you inay lead him ; but take hold of him by his conscience, and can you promise that you secure him to-morrow? Such is the melancholy state of things. But whatever be our opinion or practice, the truth of God remains firm: he that doeth righteousness, and he only, is righteous. And in this view, how deep the thought draws against the land in which we live, and especially against our own countrymen! God looketh down from heaven upon the children of men, and what an object does this world present to his view! About two-thirds of the human race in a state, if not of atheism, of practical idolatry. The Jewish people reject the Person whom we believe to be the Saviour of the world, and say their forefathers did right in nailing him to the tree. That daring Arab has united in his system of religion lewdness and cruelty, and has become the bane and the curse of the surrounding countries. Rome has injured the pure truths of the gospel, by subjecting the intellect of man to the assumed authority of an Italian bishop. Protestants are grown cold and dull, and attached to the present evil world : their fathers, who lived two hundred years ago, would excommunicate their own sons, and refuse to admit them to the table of the Lord, as a degenerate race of beings. God looks down on our youth, and marks the licentious stream which prevails. He looks down on the aged, and sces (as the Rector of Welling hath expressed it