صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

wine increase, and I can say to my soul, “Soul, thou “ hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine

ease, eat, drink, and be merry*." For the sake of living at peace, and for the sake of credit, which is intimately connected with my interest, I conform to all outward ceremonies and all moral decencies; but my heart has not yet been truly turned to God. I know no other God than my own gain and pleasure; and as to heaven, this earth, so long as I secure to myself a large share of it and its good things, is my paradise. I say to myself, “ It is good for me to be here; here will I “ build my tabernacle; for it is a pleasant place, and I " have a delight therein. But what shall I

say

when " this world is receding from me, when my senses de

cay, and death evidently approaches? Then shall I “ have no comfort, unless God should soften my heart " by the effusion of his Spirit. But lest my obduracy " should grow impenetrable by time, I will immediately “ implore the divine favour, in co-operation with my “ own endeavours, to restore my religious sensibility. “ I will henceforth cultivate the love of God.”

But to love God only, is not enough. Do I love my FELLOW-CREATURE! or, as it is expressed in Scripture, “my neighbour?" The apostle says, “ Beloved, let us “ love one another, for love is of God, and every one " that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God; he " that loveth not, knoweth not God, and therefore can“not be born of him, for God is lovet.” How, then, is my heart affected towards my fellow-creatures? Are my friendships merely combinations for the sake of interest and pleasure? Is there any human being in the world whom I wish to be miserable, and would render so if I had him in my power? Have I no sympathetic feelings for men as men? If I cannot recollect acts of

* Luke xii. 20.

+ 1 John, iv. 7, 8.

disinterested benevolence, I may rest assured that it is the same hardness of heart which renders me insensible to God, that has also made me a stranger to the social affections. I have need, therefore, to pray that God would thaw my heart by the sunshine of his grace. He who can turn a heart of stone into a heart of flesh, will cause me to feel, by his Spirit's influence, for those who share with me the evils incident to humanity.

By such questions as the above, and many such every man may propose to himself, the state of the heart may be ascertained much better than by signing articles or repeating a symbol.

God certainly made the heart of man tender. Jesus himself wept, and thus forever hallowed the briny fountain. Tears are appropriated to man, as one of the most honourable distinctions which separate him from the brute creation. When man has dried up the sacred source by acquired insensibility, he has degraded his nature, and must have recourse to God to make him a new creature, to regenerate and render him alive to the sentiments of divine love, and the soft touches of humane sympathy. God's Spirit can break the rock of fint asunder, and cause the waters to gush from it in abundance.

And can I venture to hope that he will do so, that he will melt my obduracy? Yes, certainly; for Jesus Christ has PROMISED the influence of his Spirit to renew the heart, and accomplish the great work of regeneration. Without this I cannot be happy. I may be rich, great, learned, but I cannot be happy. I am lost and undone without it; in a state more degraded and wretched than that of the lowest and obscurest human eing, whose piety and humility may have drawn down upon his heart the holy emanation of divine love.

SECTION LV.

The Sum and Substance of Christian Philosophy the Re

newal of the Heart by Divine Grace; or the softening it and rendering it susceptible of virtuous and benevoLent impressions, by cultivating the two grand Princifiles— Piety to God, and Charity to Man.

What is Christian wisdom or philosophy? Let the apostle answer; it is to “ put off the old man, “ which is corrupt, and to put on the new man, which, “ after God, is created in righteousness and true holi“ Dess.” We must be born again, or it had been better for us that we had not been born at all. The wisdom from above is the true Christian philosophy; that wisdom which, we are told*, “is first pure, then peaceable, “ gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good “ fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy."

Hardness of heart is incompatible with this wisdom which is full of mercy. The bosomn must be softened by divine influence. Redeem the time, therefore, that ye have hitherto lost in a cold, lifeless, formal, decorous religion. Love God, love your neighbour, with the ardour of a sincere mind, and the amiable simplicity of infantine innocence. Seek Jesus Christ with the earnestness of one who is a Christian by choice, and not merely because he was born in a Christian country, or of Christian parents; not because the laws of the land have established that religion, and it is creditable to appear among its professors in places consecrated to public devotion. Be Christians on your pillows, in your daily employments, in the occupation of your merchandize or agriculture, as well as in your church, and on

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

the day set apart for divine service. Let Christ, by the Holy Ghost, be formed in your hearts, restoring in you the image of God, in which you were created, but which was sadly sullied, or quite defaced, by the fall of the first Adam, and can be restored only by the mercy of the second.

If there were but a probability that these comfortable doctrines are true, a wise man would cherish them; but as they are abundantly confirmed by the written word, by the church, by the learned, by the experience and testimony of millions of pious men; who would not resolve to believe, and if any doubts should at any time arise, to say, “ Lord, help thou my unbelief!"

Religion has been, and is, the delight of a great part of our fellow-creatures throughout Christendom. It may be ours, if we will duly apply our minds to it. Consider with what ardour of attachment many seek pictures, books, the works of art, the objects of taste and fancy; They learn to love them, by applying their minds to them. Half the application bestowed on things, which, at best, are but toys, if bestowed on religion, would make it your chief delight, the guardian of your youth, and the comfort of your age and affliction. You would no longer consider its duties and employments as heavy and dull. You would feel, not only the offices of charity, but devotion, sweet to your soul. The gracious words of gospel truth, of prayer, and thanksgiving, would, “ come o'er “ thine ear,” as the poet says,

like the sweet south, “ That breathes upon a bank of violets." It is justly said, that in devotional offices, passion becomes reason, and transport, temper. Heaven must disdain the cold prayer, the lukewarm praise of insensibility and indifference, The incense must blaze on the altar, before the sweet odours can ascend to the skies. Cold devotion is indevout. Heartless thanks

[ocr errors]

giving is an insult. What! shall we be warm, and anxious, and sanguine, in worldly pursuits, in politics and party, and dull and languid as followers of Christ, in shewing our zeal in the cause of the great Captain of our salvation, which is the cause of all mankind, a cause in which Heaven and earth are interested?

Be it the great endeavour of all who would obtain wisdom from above, to conciliate, by fervent prayer, the grace of God, which will remove all hardness of heart, the cause of that coldness and insensibility, which is too often most unjustly honoured with the name of ModeRATION*.

SECTION LVI.

On spiritual Slumber, as described in the Scriptures, and

the necessity of being awakened. THE religious world is divided into many sects; but perhaps the most numerous party consists of nominal Christians, who appear to adopt no religious opinions at all; who, indeed, neither deny the truth of any religion, nor controvert its doctrines; but who give themselves up to the pleasures and business of the world, or to mere thoughtlessness and inactivity, and leave religion to its professed ministers, to their neighbours, to the weak, the sick, and the superannuated. In the words of Isaiah, “ They hear, but understand « not; and see, indeed, but perceive not; the heart of “ this people is fat, their ears heavy, and their eyes “ shut.” With respect to their spiritual state, they

* " Because thou art LUKE-WARM, I will vomit thee out of my “ mouth”—Lecus-one of the strongest expressions of contempt and indignation in the holy scriptures.

Rev. iii. 16.

« السابقةمتابعة »