Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

closely and more humbly with God, of doing good to the man who has injured you, of stinting the expenditure of life, in order to clothe the naked, to feed the hungry, or to instruct the ignorant, cherish those purposes, my brother; the glow is from Heaven,-" quench not the Spirit :” if the mind be softened, let it yield as wax to the seal, and as melted metal to the mould.

Let us now advert to the obligations under which the gospel church lies to the Holy Ghost. What the forest, the field, and the harvest, owe to the descending shower, in connexion with the warming influence of the sun; this, and much more, the church owes to the divine energy of the Holy Spirit. Woe to that church and to that heart from which he departs! Consider the effects that will soon be felt from the departure of the sun, which is now, in popular language, taking his journey towards the southern hemisphere. The forest will shed its leaves, the fields will lose their verdure, the flowers will no where be seen. Providence, by the northern blast, will seal up the hand of industry, Nature will wear an unlovely aspect; and the short day, hastening to depart, will leave us in the unwelcome gloom of a December night ;-and such, my brother, will be the state of a heart from which the Spirit of God has departed. There will be no spiritual blossom,no holy joy; the time of the singing of birds is over ; there will be a moral stiffness and rigidity, frost and barrenness, pervading the hearts of professors. Then will be heard the growling of the storm of foul passions — of anger and clamour, contention and bickering, and all the disgraceful tempers that rage in the soul destitute of Divine influence. This is the winter of the soul; and such will be the effects, although the Gospel be ever so faithfully preached, if it be not preached with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. Refusc, then, to let him go; implore the continuance of his gracious presence; on the very knees of your soul say, “ Take not, 0, take not thy Holy Spirit from me!

The name of the Father is The God of all comfort;" and as is the name of the Father, so is the name of the Son, The consolation of Israel ;” and such also is the name of the Spirit, The Comforter.Why, then, are God's people frequently dejected and distressed ? Is it because there are no consolations in God ? No; but because there is much unbelief, and peevishness, and pride, in their own hearts. A man should be ashamed to tell his minister or his elder, while he has the Bible in his hand, that he has no consolation in God. It is not the object of God to deceive us. Perish that thought from every one of us ! No; he will give us good measure, shaken down and running over—such as it becomes God and Christ' to give. Ask now, from one end of heaven even to the other, whether his promise ever failed. He looks down from heaven and says, “ Where is my creditor? Where is the man whom I have not paid ?

The man who is unmerciful to the soul, the body, the fortune, or the character of his brother, is establishing a most dangerous precedent against himself.

How serious a thing it is to die. Infidels have tried to make a joke of death. The public mind has been deceived by the northern infidel's allusions to Charon's boat, and his jests about paying the fare, and so on. “O what a falling off was there !” Was no deference due to decency, to public opinion, that he should leave the world thus. It was unmanly

“ For who to dumb forgetfulness a prey,

This pleasing, anxious being e'er resign'd,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,

Nor cast one longing, ling’ring look behind ?

If I could not leave the world in the elevation of Christian hope, let me, at least, leave it in the state of a man who has ties around his heart which he knows death must sever. It is this which gives importance to the narrow isthmus of life : my state after death will remain unaltered.

At this period the temptations of Satan are generally more powerful, because he knows that his time is short. The last message which he sent to Job he imagined would entirely overwhelm him. He began, by the Sabeans, to make an inroad on his property. He made another through the Chaldeans, and succeeded in sweeping away his camels, and denuding his mountains of the sheep which covered and whitened them. Then came the ninth wave," and swept away his family, who were enjoying themselves as sons and brothers and daughters should. And had Job's faith rested on the bosom of his family, the same storm which ruined the house would have ruined him. But what said he? The Lord gave, and the Lord. hath taken away ; blessed be the name of the Lord!The Sabeans, the Chaldeans, the devil himself, were unworthy of Job's notice — “ The Lord,” he gave and took away. O the chagrin Satan must have felt when he heard this expression from the mouth of Job, whom he hated with a perfect hatred!“ In my younger days,” said Knox, the Scottish Reformer, “ Satan endeavoured to shake my faith, by casting my sins in my teeth, and exhibiting them to me in all their horrible variety ; and I found relief in the cross. But now I am old and dying, he is trying another method with me. He wishes to buoy up my hopes, and points to the public good I have done—the civil and religious liberty I have established, the churches I have planted, the purity of faith and discipline I have introduced. And all this I find to be very powerful. But these passages come to my aid — What hast thou that thou hast not received ?'-—'I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God, which was

with me.'” The most powerful foes Israel had to contend with, were not at the Red Sea, nor in the wilderness, but near the end of their journey, when they were on the borders of the promised land. There they found thirty chieftains, or kings, who disputed every inch of the land, and were ready to take every advantage. So it is with the Christian as he comes within sight of the heavenly landSatan disputes the ground with him to the last moment. That was a strange argument which Philip of Macedon used to urge his warriors forward. To-morrow,” said he, you will have to contend with the whole force and power of Persia.This was a curious argument to any but a Greek. But Philip knew his men- he knew that danger was their inspiration. They were roused — they put forth all their powers, and God gave the world to the Greeks. Christians, remember there is no foe so weak that you should despise him; no foe so formidable that you should fear him. Let your danger lead you to look to Christ; gather inspiration from leaning on his arm, and all your foes shall vanish. He whispers in your ear, Fear not, for I am with thee : thy foes are with thee, but they are there to be scattered, ruined, slain. I am with thee, to strengthen and to uphold thee.” Now in proportion as a man humbly believes this (which is not the case with above one in five thousand), will his courage and faith be; and without this, he will have none. It is said of the martyrs, that they subdued lions; and faith in lively exercise will subdue those lion-like foes which harass the Christian in his last moments. * *

* The speeches of dying men are generally considered interesting. Hence the desire of the public to know in what manner Christian men of eminence left the world ; because they suppose that the mind is then free from earthly influence—that they are not then acting a part on a stage—that they are removed out of the dangerous sphere of regard to public opinion -- that all is then soberness and sincerity; and that all the feelings and expressions are then deep and weighty. The effect of the deathscenes of the Son of God produced a powerful impression on the mind of the centurion. The earth shook — the sun was shrouded in darkness — the rocks rent; but there was something more-the mildness of the dying Galilean - his tender care for his mother—his patience in suffering-his unshaken confidence—his prayers for those who spilt his blood; all these things bearing on the mind of the honest Roman, caused him to exclaim, " Truly this was a Son of the Gods !And similar effects were produced on the multitudes; they returned, smiting their breasts." All was not right within ; this young man might, after all, be the hope of the nations, and the promised Messiah. The effects of a Christian's death on his relations, and on those around, we may expect to be most beneficial. Many have dated the first serious impressions on their minds from the death-beds of their parents. O the look of tenderness of a dying mother! the feeble grasp—the agonising sigh-the inarticulate expressions ! These are the richest legacy, and likely to produce the best effects. Here is no acting a part ; no formal prayer of an hour long; all is nature, speaking feelingly- all is grace, speaking graciously—all is religion, speaking religiously. This takes full gripe and hold of the heart, and the result is great and lasting.

God's wisdom is engaged in the purposes of his mercy-in devising schemes, so to speak, for the deliverance of his people ; and in the plan of their salvation he hathabounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence.His power is engaged for mercy, in bringing to pass all the good pleasure of his grace. Hence Moses prayed, " And now I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying, The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy.“ Exercise,” as if he had

« ZurückWeiter »