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3. The love therefore that dwells in God, I go on to say, will be tempered by a strict regard to duty. He that dwelleth in love in the Christian sense, will take care so to chasten and balance his affection, if that be possible, that no earthly event, however distressing—no bereavement, however painful-can leave his heart utterly bankrupt, deprive him of all solace, and make him feel the world a blank, life valueless, and hope perished even at the root. He will
“Learn by a mortal yearning to ascend
Towards a higher object. Love was given,
The exercise of the social affections constitutes the first foundation of happiness, but a foundation on which a large superstructure of duties rises. It cannot be complete without many subordinate pursuits, without involving many engagements and responsibilities, without implying varied relationships, each of which demands its share of attention. To these responsibilities and relationships, arising out of our situation in life, the idea of duty principally attaches; and happy is it for us, though our hearts often rebel, that we have ties which we cannot escape, calls upon our exertion and attention to which we must listen, which we must obey. Now the spirit of religion consists largely, as appears to me, not only in reconciling us to our situation, but placing us in harmony, making us in love with it, as appointed by Providence, and as truly the best for us. It is a common observation, that he succeeds best in life who is most truly in love with his business or profession, whatever it may be. A cheerful attachment to our sphere is the harbinger of prosperity, the element of success. It is the basis of present satisfaction and future improvement; and what station in life is so humble, what employment so mean, that it may not be dignified and become rich in satisfactions to one who goes to its duties in a right spirit, with generous, upright, pious mind! It is not the sphere of our labour, but the spirit of the labourer, that is felt to be the true distinction of humanity. The repining, uneasy, discontented, envious spirit, expecting food without work, estimation without merit, love without service, is of the very essence of that “carnal mind which is at enmity with God.” Far be this spirit from our breasts! You, my brethren, can best tell yourselves to what extent the industry, self-denial, economy and care which you
have carried into your daily labours have brought with them ample rewards. When filling your part in the common labours of humanity, contributing your portion to the common wants, your zeal has been returned into your bosoms, good measure and pressed over. You have met with estimation and gratitude, when
you really deserved it. You have been hailed as a benefactor, where you have seriously tried to be such; and if not, if sometimes your effort has been slighted on earth, the whisper of approval within has found an echo in the conscious approbation of Heaven.
4. I might continue my subject, as I proposed, by speaking of the love of that religious truth which connects us intimately and immediately with the Deity, by helping us rightly to appreciate his attributes and providence, and unveils that “glory of God which shines in the face of Jesus the Christ,”—religious truth, which forms the strongest support to the mind amid varieties of trial, gives best guidance for the conduct of life, and illumines the dark valley of the shadow of death. Perhaps the spirit in which I have treated the text will help you to carry out this remaining topic. But we ought not to omit to consider the extent to which the sentiments now offered in illustration of the text derive confirmation from the character, and are in harmony with the spirit, of the Saviour who is our way, our truth and our life. They are, I conceive, in beautiful keeping with it. Whence did our Lord turn for his most striking illustrations of Providence, but to those works of God in which he saw no taint of evil,—but to the sun that shines on the evil and the good, and the rain that falls on the just and on the unjust? In the lilies of the field he beheld more than regal splendour. He felt that even the sparrows were not forgotten before God; much less, therefore, should the children of men perish without the will of their Father in heaven. But the love that dwelt in Christ shewed itself most powerfully in the depth and tenderness of his feeling for mankind, for whom he lived, he died. The disciple whom he loved leaned upon his breast. To that disciple he commended his mother in his dying hour. He took children in his arms and blessed them—saying, in reference to their artless innocence, their capacities of good, “ of such is the kingdom of heaven.” He had compassion on the multitudes when he saw them. He wept over the calamities of his country. He prayed for his destroyers. He gave himself for us. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." But his love for man was chastened, refined and perfected by the higher principle of duty and obedience to God. “ His meat and drink it was to do the will of his father in heaven." Therefore he was obedient even to the death upon the cross. In the great purpose of the soul he was one with God, that we also might be one with him and with the Father. And, finally, the contemplation of divine truth and the divine word had contributed to form the mind that was in Christ; for at an early age he was prepared to converse with the doctors in the temple and expound the prophets in the synagogues. He perfectly understood the law and the prophets which he came to fulfil, and his whole life was a witness to that truth which he prayed might make holy his disciples, keep them from the evil that is in the world, " that they might have his joy fulfilled in themselves.”
My brethren, of the man who in this spirit communes with the forms of life, we may say, with a sweet poet, he will
Note. The quotation, p. 22, is from the Journal of a Naturalist, published in 1829, which suggested some of the sentiments in the first head.
The words which follow those of our text will help us to understand the original force and application of the apostolic admonition : And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.” The church at Thessalonica, then, to which Paul addressed this earliest of his Epistles, was disturbed, feverish, restless. And this, apparently, not so much because the fire of the Christian life glowed in them with an ardour not to be subdued or quenched; not so much because, like himself, they were driven over sea and land, with a “Woe unto you, if ye preach not the gospel !" ever ringing in their ears; as that the unwonted hopes, the mysterious expectations, to which their new faith lent countenance, hardly seemed to harmonize with the dull round of daily duty. Is it not plain upon this very chapter that they, and their teacher too, looked hourly for the brightness of Christ's coming to illumine the sky with a strange glory? Who could tell how near was the day when “the shout, and the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God," should