Gambar halaman

exalted state of existance; but it cannot, I am afraid, be said to be our condition now : The love of God subsists in the heart of good men as a powerful principle of action : but it subsists there in conjunction with other principles especially with the fear of him. All goodness is in a certain degree comparative, and, I think, that he may be called a good man in whom this principle dwells and operates at all. Wherefore to obtain ; when obtained, to cultivate, to cherish, to strenthen, to improve it, ought to form the most anxious concern of our spiritual life. He that loveth God keepeth his commandments, but still the love of God is something more than keeping the conmandments: for which reason we must acquire, what many, it is to be feared, have even yet to begin, a habit of contemplating God in the bounties and blessings of his creation. I think that religion can hardly subsist in the soul without this habit in some degree. But the greater part of us, such is the natural dullness of our souls, require somethimg more exciting and stimulating than the sensations which large and general views of nature org Providence produce; something more parti.

ourselves, and which more nearly touches rate happiness. Now of examples of this mely, of direct' and special mercies tomself, no one, who calls to mind the pas

providences of his life, can be destitute. one topic of gratitude falling under this hich almost every man, who is.tolerably

and exact in his reflections, will find in upon which he has to look back: and it is How often have we been spared, when we at bave been overtaken and cut off in the midst

the attributes of God, forbearance,

which we have most to acknowl. at want occasions to bring the re

pour thoughts. Have there not in which, when ensnared in vice,. been detected and exposed, have punishment or shame, have been

irrecoverably ruined! occasions in which we might have been suddenly stricken with death in a state of soul the most unfit for it that was possible? That we were none of these, that we have been preserved from these dangers' that our sin was not our destruction, that instant judgment did not overtake us, is to be attributed to the long-suffering of God. Supposing, what is undoubtedly true, that the secrets of our conduct were known to him at the time, it can be attributed to no other cause. Now this is a topic which can never fail to supply subjects of thankfulness, and of a species of thankfulness which must bear with direct force upon the regulation of our conduct. We were not destroyed when we might have been destroyed, and when we merited destruction. We have been preserved for further trial. This is, or ought to be, a touching reflection. How deeply therefore does it behove us not to trifle with the patience of God, not to abuse this enlarged space, this respited, protracted season of repentance, by plunging afresh into the same crimes, or others, or greater crimes? It shews that we are not to be wrought upon by mercy; that our gratitude is not moved; that things are wrong within us; that there is a de. plorable void and chasm in our religious principles, the love of God not being present in our hearts.

But to return to that with which we set out. Religion may spring from various principles, begin in various motives. It is not for us to narrow the promises of God which belong to sincere religion, from whatever cause it originates. But of these principles, the purest, the surest, is the love of God, forasmuch as the religion which proceeds from it is sincere, constant, and uniyersal. It will not, like fits or terror and alarm (which yet we do not despise) produce a temporary religion. The love of God is an abiding principle. I will not like some other (and these also good and laudable principles of action, as far as they go,) produce a partial religion. It is co-extensive with all our obligations. Practical Christianity may be com

prised in three words--devotion, self-government, and benevolence. The love of God in the heart is a fountain, from which shese three streams of virtue will not fail to issue. The love of God also is a guard against error in conduct because it is a guard against those evil influences which mislead the understanding in moral questions. In some measure it supplies the place of every rule. He who has it truly within him, has little to learn. Look steadfast to the will of God, which he who loves God necessarily does, practise what you believe to be well pleasing to him, leave off what you believe to be displeasing to him; cherish, confirm, strengthen the principle itself, which sustains this course of external conduct, and you will not want many lessons, you ned not listen to any other monitor.

SERMON III. MEDITATING UPON RELIGION. Have Inot remembered thee in my bed : and thought

upon thee when I was waking ?-Psalm Ixii. 7.

The life of God is the soul of man as it is some. times emphatically called, the Christian life, that is, or the progress of Christianity in the heart of any particular person, is marked, amongst other things, by religion gradually gaining possesston

thoughts. It has been said, that, if we about religion as it deserves, we should ink about any thing else; nor with strict. haps can we deny the truth of this proposi. Religious concerns do so surpass and out. in value and importance all concerns beside lid they occupy a place in our minds propord to that importance, they would in truth exde every other but themselves. I am not there.

e one of those who wonder when I see a man ngrossed with religion; the wonder with me is, that mer

and think so little concerning it. With

wances which must be made for our

our activities, our anxieties about


the interests and occurrences of the present life, it is still true, that our forgetfulness and negligence and indifference about religion are much greater than can be excused, or can easily be accounted for by these causes. Few men are so busy, but that they contrive to find time for any gratification their heart is set upon, and thought for any subject in which they are interested: they want not leisure for these though they want leisure for religion. Notwithstanding therefore singular caes, if indeed there be any cases, of being over-religious, over-intent upon spiritual affairs, the real and true complaint is all on the other side, that men think not about them enough, as they ought, as is reasonable, as it is their duty to do. That is the malady and the mischief. The cast and turn of our infirm and fleshly nature lean all on that side. For first this nature is affected chiefly by what we see; though the things which concern us most deeply be not seen; for this very reason, that they are not seen, they do not affect us as they ought. Though these things ought to be meditated upon, and must be acted upon, one way or other, long before we come actually to experience them, yet in fact we do not meditate upon them, we do not act with a view to them, till something gives us alarm, gives reason to believe that they are approaching, fast upon us, that they are at hand, or shortly will be, that we shall indeed experience what they are. The world of spirits, the world for which we are destined, is invisible to us. Hear St. Paul's account of this matter; “ we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”-“We walk by faith, not by sight: faith is the evidence of things not seen.” Some great invisible agenthere must be in the universe; the things which are seen were not made of things shich do appear.” Now if the great Author of al things be himself invisible to our senses, and if our refatton to him must necessarly form the



AN concern of our existence,

****** hotel in greatest interest and con

karthings which are now invisi Ann Aupai for what a man seeth, why doth the when we with patience wait for it." The

*; but it we hope for that we see

Qui in s the things which we see.

pily therefore, which religion has to con491 ike us, is that which binds down our at

The natural amersed in sense : nothing takes hold of da mi but what applies immediately to his

e but this disposition will not do for religion : su stigious character is founded in hope as con

whalinguished from experience, in perceiving on the mind what is not perceived by the eye; miless a man can do this, he cannot be religious; *** with many it is a great difficulty. This pow. er of hope, which, as St. Paul observes of it, is hat which places the invisible world before our

is specifically described in Scripture, as gst the gifts of the Spirit, the natural mau ing indeed much in need of it, being altor of an opposite tendency. Hear St. Paul's 1 for his Roman converts ; « The God of

you with all joy and peace in believing, ou may abound in hope through the power Holy Ghost.” Again to the Galatians, how he describe the state of mind of a Christian!

through the Spirit wait for the hope of rightgain ; Another impediment to the thought of igion is the faculty and the habit we have actired of regarding its concerns as at a distance. child is affected by nothing but what is present, sud many thousands in this respect continue chil

their lives; in a degree this weakness us all, or produces upon us the same

different form, namely, in this way;

vurselves necessarily disturbed by ...ching evil, we have the means of he nearness or the approach of that,

ness by faith.”

[ocr errors]
« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »