صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

And take not up the ascetic notion that you should not ask for temporal goods, seeing godliness hath the promise both of the life which now is, and of the life which is to come.

Ask what ye please, and it shall be given to you; but ask in faith, nothing doubting. For he that doubteth is like a wave of the sea, driven of the winds and tossed. Let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. Moreover see that ye ask for the glory of God, and the eternal profit of the souls of men, not for a present convenience, or to consume it on your own lusţs. James saith, “ Ye ask and ye receive not, because ye ask amiss, to consume it on your lusts." Therefore it is so necessary that the knowledge of the revelation of Christ, concerning all truth and ends of holiness, should cast out our own selfish and erroneous conceits; and that the Spirit of truth should have created in us a righteous spirit, in order that we might know what things to desire, what are our true wants, and what the true wants of our friends, and what the great wants of the church and of the world; that we may take a deep interest therein, and weary the Lord with our supplications for the same.--See you not, brethren, that there must be a teaching to pray, a teaching to desire, a teaching of the will, and a subordination of it to the will of God. This is the work of the Divine Word, and Divine Spirit, who proceeded from the Father, in order to bring the soul into reconciliation with the Father, to harmonize and attune its desires to the purposes of God. And before there can be any outpouring of prayer, there must be an outpouring of the revelation of the Word, and an outpouring of the fellowship of the Spirit. The Spirit leadeth us unto Christ, and Christ leadeth us unto the Father; and in a holy harmony and union of the soul with the Father, the work of the Son and Spirit is perfected. Whence the importance of this weekly ministry; whence also the importance of church communion with one another, in order that the word and Spirit, working effectually in us, may bring us into close communion with the Father. Truly the faithful preaching of the word, and the fellowship of the believers thereof, be the great nourishments of prayer, which is the great cure of carefulness, and cause of peace to the troubled and anxious soul : as it is written, “ And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.”

And this is the cure of the third evil effect of care, fulness, that it shipwrecks our peace among the dark uncertainties of the future. The future is known only to the Lord, and no one hath power over it but he; for, though by the power of science and calculation the probabilities of certain things in the physical world can be shrewdly inferred, and by wisdom and experience moral changes can be discerned also, yet not with that certainty as to be surely relied upon, though sufficient in every man to set on foot infinite risks and adventures. And, accordingly, every man hath devices forecast for many days and many years to come. And there is in man's nature the strongest tendency to believe that his prosperity will continue. He shrinketh from the anticipation of adversity, and death is seldom in his mind. The soul is always taken at unawares by calamity, and hardly any one can make up his mind to die. I have sometimes thought that the soul thus gave testimony to her own immortality; but I rather fear the truth to be, that she is so much engrossed with the visible world as to shrink from the thought of leaving it, and so conscious of unfitness for the invisible world as to dread to enter upon it. For surely every possibility in the future is contemplated more than the only certainty in it, which is death. There is no scheme which doth not reach unto the future, no desire nor wish that has not to be realized in its dark womb. Every man knows how tomorrow is forestalled by the mind : and who is he that can say, 'I take no thought for it; sufficient for the day is the evil thereof?' Now, from this future, wherein we all speculate and traffic so much, care doth reap a plentiful harvest of bitterness. What anxieties of the merchant after his outward-and-homeward-bound adventures! what anxieties of the trader after his outstanding accounts ! what anxieties of the mother after her children at home and abroad! what anxiety of all for the continuance and enlargement of their worldly estate! and what disappointments, what vexations, and long-enduring griefs, when these are frustrated by calamity; when the world becomes unfortunate, and the times perilous, as during the year that is past ! Let the experience of the past year be the comment upon this head of my discourse, and prove to you how open you lie at the mercy of this changeable world. And let me tell you, that Satan hath a spiteful delight in inflicting disappointment and pain. He tempts men with riches and ambition, till he hath got them fairly in his power; and then he plays with them upon his hook, hither and thither, at his will, reaping joy to his malice from all their writhing and misery. So much prosperity as will purchase the soul, then so much anxiety or so much adversity as the soul will bear. For certain it is that he knoweth not how to bless, and cannot endure the sight of blessedness. His intent is to kill peace and blessedness; which in the spirit he doth by anxiety and care, in the body by disease and death. But besides that he wieldeth the kingdom only for the aggravation of misery, we should know that he is to be bereaved of the kingdom itself, stripped of it, and, with all who are his subjects, consumed from the presence of the Lord; and the time is at hand. So that every one who cleaveth to the love of visible things, is like a man who joins the fortunes of a desperado. Who doth not see that Satan's kingdom is in jeopardy; and hardly hangeth together; that the judgment is about to sit, or is actually sitting, upon the world? Kingdoms in distress ; the body of the people discontented every where; infidelity, the forerunner and parent of anarchy and destruction, widely spreading; and men's hearts trembling with the apprehension of the things which are to come upon the earth. Satan hath but a very short time to hold his kingdom, and the kingdom of glory shall soon be revealed. It is a desperate thing now, brethren, to be confederate with him; and I en. treat you to break loose from his bonds, to become subjects of Christ's suffering yet hopeful kingdom, of which the power and dominion shall soon arrive: and to cast your care upon God, who careth for you; as it is written, “ Commit your way unto the Lord ; trust also in him: he will bring it to pass.”

Those things which trouble the peace of thy soul,

, commit to God's safe-keeping, and “ he will bring forth thy righteousness like the light, and thy judgment like the noon-day.” Turn your cares into prayers, and your anxieties into supplications. Give into his hands your whole lot, in whose hands are the issues from death. To Him, who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, be joined ; and you shall begin to experience the growth of the same unchangeableness in your soul: your feet shall be in a sure place, and your house shall be founded upon a rock, against which no windy storm nor deluge of adversity shall prevail; and your path shall be as the morning light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

Therefore, brethren, I do entreat you, by the coming of the Lord and our gathering together unto him, to sit very loose to the things of the present evil world, and to guard against setting value upon any earthly place or commodity, further than as you may therein and therewith glorify the Lord your God. I do earnestly entreat you to be content with your lot and condition, as being the will and appointment of the Lord ; and not to launch your precious souls upon Satan's seas, lest you come into peril and be shipwrecked. I pray you to confide your

whole case, and the keeping of it, unto the Lord, who careth for you: and if ye will lay up treasures, brethren, be it in heaven; and if you will covet honour, let it be to sit high in his kingdom, which is by drinking deep of the cup of humility. Oh, brethren, I am rejoiced to find, from day to day, and from week to week, that the true spiritual church is more and more laying hold of the joy

« السابقةمتابعة »