« VorigeDoorgaan »
The Almighty cannot create intelligent and demand for the scheme of mercy, beings without manifesting, by the very which they develop, the high distinction act, wisdom and power; and after they of being the brightest display of all the are created, their happiness as well as moral attributes of the Divinity: “It his own glory, require that he should became him, for whom are all things, govern them according to the unchange- and by whom are all things, in bringing able principles of justice, truth, and many sons to glory, to make the Captain goodness. In the case of moral defec- of their salvation perfect through suffertion, the criminals naturally fall under ings.” And throughout, they distinctly the weight of punitive justice; what the and fully maintain, that the salvation law of their creation denounces, that, of they reveal is through the medium course, they are doomed to endure; and of atonement, by the vicarious death all that they can possibly know of the of an illustrious Victim provided by character of God, as the good and right- God, devoting himself, and receiving in eous Governor of the universe, can only restored life, the throne of the universe, induce in them “a fearful looking for and the inconceivable happiness of milof judgment and fiery indignation." | lions of redeemed sinners, a full comHopes derived from the general notion pensation for all the shame which he of the goodness and placability of God, despised and the cross which he endured. as they are certainly contradicted by his To whatever objections this statement justice, and may be altogether repugnant may be liable, and however sinners who to his wisdom; may be, and if the Di- now refuse to humble themselves under vine veracity is regarded, must be utterly the mighty land of God, deride this fallacious. Whether mercy will be exer provision of mercy, there is no other that cised or not can only be ascertained by pretends to the least certainty; there is a special revelation. It is altogether no other that affords the slightest intimabeyond the province of reason, and, à | tion of pardon; and if this is to be repriori, it would be utterly impossible for jected there remains no other to be emthe most exalted beings who are best braced, there is no more sacrifice for acquainted with the Divine character, sin. But what is there in this great even to imagine, from the moral system redeeming sacrifice, the best gift of Inof the universe, whether mercy would finite love to a guilty world, to call forth follow upon the rebellion of any race of the scorn and contempt of unbelievers ? creatures, and if it should follow, how or Is it because it declares that to be certain in what manner it would be exercised. which reason could only conjecture ?Reason tells us all, that this must be a that it offers to relieve the direst misery of matter of direct communication from man, where all other specifics had utterly God, and that sinners can have no ra
failed ?-that it furnishes an invariable tional ground to expect pardon and ac- ground of hope, where all before was ceptance from an offended Deity without mutable?-that it upholds the rights and a specific revelation from himself announcing the glad tidings.
it displays and imparts all the treasures Now it is the peculiar glory of the of infinite love?and that it has proved gospel that it is such a revelation. Its a divine and all-sufficient source of com. sacred records unequivocally assure us, | fort to the penitent sinner, while at the that “God is in Christ reconciling the same time it has cleansed his heart from world unto himself, not imputing to men moral pollution, and raised him to entheir trespasses." They moreover pro- joy the communion and the felicities of claim : “Herein is love; not that we heaven? loved God, but that he loved us, and 5. In the last place, allow me to insent his Son to be the propitiation for troduce the doctrine of immortality, of our sins." They even go farther still, / future rewards and punishments, that
grand palladium of piety and virtue, as knew whither the reluctant voyagers the crowning evidence in proof of the were bound; for no one ever returned to Divine inspiration of the record which report to his fellows his own or their makes it known.
destination. Yet the ship was ever and The ideas of accountableness and fu-anon anchoring in the harbour, and alturity are part of that intuitive religion ways departed with the spoils of huwhich is interwoven with the constitution manity. The noble, the youthful, the of our nature. Yet we know that the wise, the witty, and the gay; the rich apprehension of them was very obscure and the poor, the tyrant and the slave; and feeble under the reign of Paganism; the mother and the tender infant at her by the most numerous and popular sects bosom. During a succession of ages, of the ancient philosophers they were curiosity was intensely excited; the rejected; and the best and wisest could profound speculated ; the benevolent rise no higher than to a fond if or a searched, and searched in vain, for hope; timid conjecture. Yet is there a circum- the wise, the grave, and the learned, all stance of daily and hourly occurrence, strove to allay the universal anxiety and which must deeply impress us, and ren- to soothe their own hearts under the apder it infinitely desirable, that if anything palling assurance, that they too must can be known of an hereafter, it should obey the inexorable mandate, and be be imparted. That circumstance is death. launched upon that ocean, where, for Whether death is an eternal sleep, or ought they knew, their entire species whether it introduces us to another state would, sooner or later, be engulfed. As of existence, it is an awful thing to these venerable sages retired, unable to die. It is very certain that reason is solve the enigma, or to tell anything not able to demonstrate an immortal state satisfactory, either of the ship or of the of happiness or misery beyond the grave. fate of those it was daily and hourly The probabilities are all in its favour; forcing from their native shores, A MILD but we want more decisive evidence; and FORM OF HUMANITY, meek in wisdom, the want increases to agony as we ap- with the light of heaven radiating his prehend the approach of death to our brow, and the tenderness of the softest selves. What mankind are indebted to compassion touching and animating his the ancient philosophers, to Jesus Christ, features, was seen advancing; his voice and to modern infidels, will appear from of majesty hushed all the wailings of the the following allegory, and which is no bereaved and the sorrowing. He allayed fable :
every fear. The ship, he said, belonged There is a country whose shores are to the country from whence he came, perpetually haunted by a mysterious where he had long dwelt; that the mulship from some far-distant and unknown titudes which had been for so many land. Its arrival never fails to inspire generations the captives of its power,
for an armed band on every visit ravages where they were happy or miserable, the whole territory, and seizes innumer according to the characters they had able victims of all ranks, of every age, formed and sustained in the society and of each sex. Such was the case for from whence they had been taken ; that ages, before any effort was made to repel the happiness of the good and virtuous the invaders. All submitted with silent was inconceivable, and the misery of the awe; one generation was taken away, | vicious and the bad was just in propor-another,—and another,—and no one tion to their guilt; but that both were
placed in an unchangeable state; that • Those who may be disposed to question
he had the power of so preparing them the originality of this conception, are requested to compare it with the first suggestion in " Tre
all for that mysterious voyage; that if maino."
| they would place themselves under his
guidance and protection, he would secure fabled satyts of an exploded superstition ? their cordial reception in those realms Hurrying forward to meet the ship at its of blessedness from whence he had come, next visitation, who is it they insult with and to which he was about to return; their ribaldry? Can it be the great that he had absolute authority, both over Teacher who has calmed the fears and the sbip and the ministe of destiny inspired the hopes of so many millions which were so often making their incur- of our race? Is he, and the light which sions among them; that before their eyes he has poured upon the dark ocean of he would go and return the veritable futurity, the object of their contumely being he stood before them; and that and scorn? Is it the star by which this his principal object in visiting them was ship of heaven tracks its way over the to make them ardently desire and long pathless deep and arrives so surely at its for the voyage they had hitherto con destined port, which provokes the hoottemplated with so much dismay. At the ings of these birds of night? Is it their close of bis address heaven opened, and ambition to extinguish every light in the a voice from the excellent glory, said, great cemetery of human nature, and to “ This is my beloved Son, in whom I am leave nothing radiant but their own inwell pleased.” All manner of diseases scription on its portals proclaiming death fled at his bidding; the dead were raised; to be “an eternal sleep;" but which the and evil spirits at his rebuke vanished moanings, and fitful sighs, and the groans into the outer darkness. From the voy- of agonised spirits coming from out the age which he said he would take he did darkness, contradict and belie, and which not shrink; and on a tempestuous night, find their echo in those bosoms in which when such a storm as earth nor ocean there is “a fearful looking for of judgever witnessed before or since, raged ment and fiery indignation ?” Need with a fury which threatened the wreck another touch be added to this scene? of nature itself, he embarked, and on the Philosophy without the Scriptures is no third day returned, while a thousand guide into futurity. Infidelity against harmonies rolled along the glorious an- the Scriptures is not merely a mistaken them which hailed the Deliverer of men, guide, but a desperate and malignant under the endearing character of “the foe. On all these grounds, therefore, we Resurrection and the Life.”
claim for the Scriptures a Divine origin. But what means the rabble rout who They are the inspiration of the Most have grotesquely assumed the toga of High;-the glorious revelation of his philosophy, while, in their moral quali- wisdom, purity, and love. ties, they betray their affinity to the Foleshill.
ON PRAYER. What is prayer? It is not a devout | the definition of helplessness, but the attitude; it is not prostration of body, or feeling of it; not the figures of speech, uplifted hands, or a set form of phrase. but compunction of soul; it is the ‘Lord ology. There may be all these without save us, we perish!' of drowning Peter; prayer. “Prayer," says the excellent the cry of faith to the ear of mercy. Hannah More, “is the application of Prayer is desire: it is not a conception want to him who alone can relieve it; of the mind, nor a mere effort of the inthe voice of sin to him alone who can tellect, nor an act of the memory; but an pardon it; it is the urgency of poverty, elevation of the soul towards its Maker,the prostration of humility, the fervency a pressing sense of our ignorance and inof penitence, the confidence of trust; it firmity,--a consciousness of the perfecis not eloquence, but earnestness; not | tions of God, of his readiness to hear, of
his power to help, of his willingness to Abraham for Sodom? Jacob wrestled save." It is the outpouring of the heart with the angel, and prevailed. As an before God. The heart never speaks but old divine observes: “Here is dust and when it feels; and the most acceptable ashes wrestling with Omnipotence. Omprayer often proceeds from a stammering nipotence says to dust and asbes, “Let tongue. The tongue may not even speak. | me go, for the day breaketh ;' but Hannah prayed, but only her lips moved : dust and ashes says, “I will not let no voice was heard, but her prayer was thee go except thou bless me;' and he accepted and answered; for “he that blessed him.'" “The effectual fervent searcheth the heart, knoweth what is prayer of a righteous man availeth much." the mind of the Spirit, for he maketh What an example was Moses of the effiintercession for the saints according to cacy of prayer? At one time, judgments the will of God.” Prayer need not be descend upon the land of Egypt; at long. How short was the prayer of the another, water gushes from a flinty rock; thief ? “ Lord, remember me when thou and by prayer Amalek was overcome. comest into thy kingdom." It need not
“ While Moses stood with arms spread wide, be fluent. How simple was the prayer
Success was found on Israel's side; of the publican? “God be merciful to But when through weariness they faild, me a sinper."
That moment Amalek prevail'd." “ Prayer is the simplest form of speech, “Elias was a man subject to like passions That infant lips can try;
as we are; and he prayed earnestly that Prayer the sublimest strains that reach
| it might not rain ; and it rained not upon The majesty on high."
the earth by the space of three years and How important is prayer? It is the six months; again he prayed, and the divinely-appointed means for man to heavens gave forth rain." Hezekiah, by make known his requests unto God: prayer, had his life prolonged fifteen “For all these things I will be inquired years. By prayer, the Ninevites averted of by the house of Israel to do it for the destruction of their city. By prayer, them.” “Call upon me in the day of the poor widuw overcame the unjust trouble." Prayer gives to sinful man judge. Peter was confined in prison, and access to God, and that with the confi- | Herod intended to bring him forth on dence, not of a servant to a master, or of the following day, perhaps for death; a subject to a governor, but of a child to but prayer was made without ceasing of a parent. The believer can approach his the church unto God for him; and before heavenly Father at all times, and under the morning sun arose, Peter was deall circumstances : “ Is any afflicted ?
livered. Yes! let him pray.”
“ Prayer makes the darken'd cloud withdraw." “ If pains afflict, or wrongs oppress; Queen Mary, it is said, feared the prayers If cares distract, or fears dismay;
of John Knox more than an army of ten If guilt deject, or sin distress;
The remedy 's before thec-pray.” thousand men. What an eminent ex“In everything, by prayer and supplica
ample of prayer was our Lord. We read tion, with thanksgiving, lét your requests
of his spending a whole night in prayer
to his heavenly Father. be made known unto God.” When everything else failed, Christian betook him “Cold mountains and the midnight air, self to this last resource-"All Prayer"
Witness'd the fervour of his prayer." and the enemy fled.
Prayer has shut the mouths of lions, “For Satan trembles when he sees
quenched the violence of fire, opened The weakest saint upon his knees." and shut heaven. How great is the efficacy of prayer ?! “Prayer moves the band that moves the How the Almighty hearkened to the
world." voice of a man in the intercession of And how great are the encouragements
to prayer! God has never said to the long delayed, it came at last: “Then seeking seed of Jacob, “Seek ye me in Manasseh knew that the Lord he was vain.” He has never failed those who God.” Prayer can be heard from all have called upon bim in faith. Former places : Jonah prayed in the belly of the deliverances should encourage us to trust fish; Daniel, in the lion's den; Paul in him. “His arm is not shortened, that and Silas, in prison; the psalmist says, he cannot save; neither his ear heavy, “ From the ends of the earth will I cry that he cannot hear.” He is not, like unto thee.” How numerous are the obBaal, talking or pursuing, or on a jour- jects of prayer: our beloved country, the ney, or asleep. “He that keepeth Israel, extension of the Redeemer's kingdom, neither slumbers nor sleeps." Think of the conversion of the Jews, the ingatherbis ability: “He is able to do exceeding ing of the gentiles, our civil and religious abundantly above all we can ask or institutions, the afflicted, our friends and think.” Consider his willingness: “Prove relatives, and ourselves; but in all our me now herewith, and see if I will not approaches to the throne of grace, we open the windows of heaven, and pour should remember that Christ is the meyou out a blessing that there shall not be dium : “I am the Way, the Truth, and room to contain it." If ye, being evil, the Life: no man cometh unto the Father know how to give good gifts unto your but by me." “Whatsoever ye shall ask children, how much more shall your the Father in my name, believing, ye heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to shall receive." them that ask him? Wherefore, ask and While there are thousands who never ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, bow the knee in prayer, it is the Chrisknock and it shall be opened unto you; for tian's highest privilege. He knows what every one that asketh receiveth, and he that it is to exclaim with the psalmist, “ It is seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh good for me to draw near to God.” it shall be opened." What encourage- Prayer is the very life and soul of the ments parents have to pray for their Christian the element in which he children! Samuel, Timothy, Augustine, breathes. Doddridge, had each a praying mother ; and what eminent characters they were ?
“ Prayer is the Christian's vital brcatli,
The Christian's native air; Manasseh had a praying father; and
His watchword at the gates of death. though an answer to those prayers was He enters henven by prayer."
VITAL QUESTIONS ON BAPTISM.
Viral Questions, which concern the I. Is the blood of sprinkling which
cleanseth from all sin signified in baptism ? must be interesting to all serious inquirers –If so, the question is all-important-it after truth. Much has been said on the is vital. “Without shedding of blood mode and subjects of baptism, but we there is no remission,” Heb. ix. 22. And wish more to be said on its vitality—on without an application of this blood by its spiritual signification-on its present the eternal Spirit, our consciences cannot and everlasting advantages.
By medi- be purged from dead works, to serve the tating on these, we shall not be less con- true and living God, Heb. ix. 14. “Let cerned to understand, and to value, and us, then, draw near with a true heart, in to improve by God's blessed Spirit the full assurance of faith, having our hearts outward and visible sign. Many of our sprinkled from an evil conscience, and young friends need instruction on these our bodies washed with pure water," points, and are anxious to receive it. Let Heb. x. 22. But is this blood of sprinkus then inquire,
ling signified in baptism? Is baptism