« السابقةمتابعة »
God; he perseveres through all changes, and under all trials, in the love and practice of universal holiness, to the end of life.
SPIRIT OF CHRISTIANITY.
CHRISTIANITY breathes nothing of the malignity of national prejudice, or the exclusive spirit of a rancorous bigotry. Its spirit is that of unlimited benevolence, and its employment is to do good to all. O that those who are disgusted with it as disfigured by the trappings of superstition, and breathing the fury of intolerance, would turn their eyes to it as it appears over the plains of Bethlehem ! pure and benign as the angel who proclaimed it, and announcing peace on earth, and good will to men.
CONSOLATIONS OF CHRISTIANITY. CARISTIANITY offers even to the irreligious, who relent amidst their sufferings, the alleviation springing from inestimable promises made to penitence; any other system, which should attempt to console them, simply as suffering, and without any reference to the moral and religious state of their minds, would be mischievous, if it were not inefficacious. What are the principal sources of consolation to the pious, is immediately apparent. The victim of sorrow is assured, that God exercises his paternal wisdom and kindness in afflicting his children ; that this necessary discipline is to refine and exalt them, by making them “partakers of his holiness ;” that he mer
cifully regards their weakness and pains, and will not let them suffer beyond what they shall be able to bear; that their great Leader has suffered for them more than they can suffer, and kindly sympathizes still; that this short life was not meant so much to give them joy, as to prepare them for it; and that patient constancy shall receive a resplendent crown. An aged Christian is soothed by the assurance, that his almighty Friend will not despise the enfeebled exertions, nor desert the oppressed and fainting weakness of the last stage of his servant's life. When advancing into the shade of death itself, he is animated by the faith that the Great Sacrifice has taken the malignity of death away; and that the divine presence will attend the dark steps of this last and lonely enterprise, and show the dying traveller and hero that even this melancholy gloom is the very confine of paradise, the immediate access to the region of eternal life.
Youth is the spring of life; and by this will be determined the glory of summer, the abundance of autumn, the provision of winter. It is the morning of life; and if the Sun of Righteousness does not dispel the moral mists and fogs before noon, the whole day generally remains overspread and gloomy. It is the seed-time; and “ what a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Every thing of importance is affected by religion in this period of life.
RELIGION AN ACTIVE PRINCIPLE. The great care of the man who is content with the form of godliness without the power, is, that every thing should be right without; while the true Christian is most careful that every thing should be right within. It would be nothing to him to be applauded by the whole world, if he had not the approbation of God and his own conscience. Real religion is, therefore, a living principle. Any one may make a show, and be called a Christian, and unite himself to a sect, and be admired: but for a man to enter into the sanctuary ; to hold secret communion with God; to retire into his closet, and transact all his affairs with an unseen Saviour; to walk with God like Enoch, and yet to smite on his breast with the publican, having no confidence in the flesh, and triumphing only in Christ Jesus—these are the life and acts of a new creature
Real religion is a living principle in the heart. It is not like our dress, which is put off at night, and put on again during the day; but it resembles life, which we ever retain both by day and by night, both while we wake and while we sleep. Religion is a vital principle in the soul, and is constant in its operation. In order to possess it, we must be born again of the Spirit, and be truly converted to God. Such is the commencement of unfeigned piety in the heart: let us seek above all things to obtain it as our best inheritance.
THE VIRTUES OF IRRELIGIOUS MEN AN
AGGRAVATION OF THEIR GUILT. If the virtues and accomplishments of nature are at all to be admitted into the controversy be. tween God and man, instead of forming any abatement upon the enormity of our guilt, they stamp upon it the reproach of a still deeper and more determined ingratitude. Let us conceive it possible for a moment, that the beautiful personifications of scripture were all realized ; that the trees of the forest clapped their hands unto God, and that the isles were glad at his presence; that the little hills shouted on every side, and the valleys covered over with corn sent forth their notes of rejoicing; that the sun and the moon praised him, and the stars of light joined in the solemn adoration; that the voice of glory to God was heard from every mountain, and from every water-fall; and that all nature, animated throughout by the consciousness of a pervading and presiding Deity, burst into one loud and universal song of gratulation. Would not a strain of greater loftiness be heard to ascend from those regions where the all-working God had left the traces of his own immensity, than from the tamer and the humbler scenery of an ordinary landscape ? Would not you look for a gladder acclamation from the fertile field, than from the arid waste, where no character of grandeur made up for the barrenness that was around you? Would not the goodly tree, compassed about with the glories of its summer foliage, lift up an anthem of louder gratitude than the lowly shrub that grew beneath it? Would not the flower, from whose leaves every hue of loveliness was reflected, sent forth a sweeter rapture than the russet weed, which never drew the eye of any admiring passenger ? And in a word, wherever you saw the towering eminences of nature, or the garniture of her more rich and beauteous adornments, would it not be there that you looked for the deepest tones of devotion, or there for the tenderest and most exquisite of its melodies ?
THERE are certain men who, calling themselves wise men, pretend to have discovered the imposture of our most holy faith. The Bible, with them, is mere fiction, and the tendency of its belief, to wreathe the yoke of ignorance and superstition around the necks of their fellow
With a generosity quite worthy of their cause, they propose to emancipate us from our debasing thraldom! From what thraldom? From the thraldom of that faith which works by love, purifies the heart, and overcomes the world? from the thraldom of that holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord; from the thraldom of the peace of God, which passeth understanding? from the thraldom of a hope of immortality that maketh not ashamed ? from the thraldom of a joy unspeakable, and full of glory? From such a thraldom do we wish to be at liberty ? No; we are determined, by the grace of God, to glory in the cross of Christ, and to rejoice in his service as the most honourable freedom. Infidelity, like the bird of night, seldom ventures abroad in the full splendour of day, but chooses rather to pursue its course among its native shades. When