« VorigeDoorgaan »
companions deemed inaccessible to Israel did Caleb dwell, and there his family flourished for many generations.
Various are the expedients which men have employed to secure their possession to their families. “Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling-places to all generations: they call their lands by their own names. Nevertheless, man being in honour abideth not; he is like the beasts that perish."* How ineffectual these expedients are, the history of what is past, and your own acquaintance with the state of society, will convince you. How many once-flourishing families are extinct or sunk in obscurity! What they imagined would be a memorial of their power and skill, has been torn down by the caprice of an occupier who neither knew them nor cared for them, and their names have been defaced from their monuments to afford a place for those of another. Religion affords a much better security than all the expedients of human power or skill. The lessons which are taught by a holy father, and the habits formed under his culture, are likely to lead the young to that conduct which will ensure to them all the advantages of their parents. It is not likely that, in the hands of the youth who hath been taught to be diligent and sober, a father's property will be squandered in intemperance and folly, wasted in slothfulness, or risked on romantic speculation. A good and wise man, who is faithful in his duty as a parent, may indulge the hope,
Psalm xlix. 11, 12.
that He who hath been his God will be the God of his seed, and that the lessons of piety and virtue will be their guides in all their inexperience, and their protection in all their helplessness.
It is a very beautiful circumstance in the history of Caleb, that he lived to allot portions in Canaan to his children. His daughter, whom he had given to his nephew to wife as the reward of his valour, went to meet her father, and lighted off her ass; and he said unto her, What wouldest thou? And she answered, "Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs."*
To all good men it may be said, that the piety and integrity to which they labour to form their children are the characters of the heirs of eternal life. If it is your care to bring them with you to Jesus, and to lead them on in the paths of wisdom, God may form in them the fruit of the Spirit, which is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth; make them followers of himself as dear children, and unite them hereafter with you in that happy land where the pious and the good inherit the promises. Thus you shall have with them now one spirit, one service, and one hope, and hereafter one song, one felicity, and one eternal home.
Let good men be animated in the service of God by these considerations. Endeavour to be more active
Joshua xv. 19.
and spiritual in it than you have yet been. Reflect often if there have been any parts of his service which you have omitted, and direct your attention to these. How shameful is indolence and languor in such a service, complaints of it, or desertion from it! Serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind; and let the world see, from the enlargement of your views, and the liberality of your feelings, that, while the servants of God, you are free indeed.
Let the great distinction stated by the Apostle James, betwixt worldly and holy wisdom, be carefully remembered; and while the former is seen in the children of this world to be earthly, sensual, and devilish, let yours be seen to be pure and peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.*
Think of the wretched condition in which you once lived. In time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the Prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, but God put his Spirit within you, and caused you to walk in his statutes. Turn not again to folly. Cultivate increasing conformity to the character and will of God. He draws you with cords of love, and shall you not run after him? Shall the votaries of the false prophet follow his steps in blood with such zeal and alacrity? Shall the misguided votaries of the church of Rome follow in stripes, in fasting, and in seclusion, the founders of
James iii. 15-17.
the respective orders to which they belong, and shall Christians grow languid in following their Lord? Beware of showing that regard to any other master or pattern which you show to him. The good examples of others claim only a subordinate regard; and it is only in so far as they are followers of Christ that you are permitted to imitate them. Other examples must be compared with that of your great Lord; and if in aught they are opposite to it, we must in that disregard them, though they are the patterns of persons dear and venerable. The different parties of the Christian world are often named from the persons by whom they were founded; and while they warmly contend for the honour of their respective leaders, they forget that we are prohibited to call any man master on earth, for that one is our Master, even Christ. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul, I of Apollos, I of Cephas, I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul ?* Superstition hath dedicated churches to particular saints, but to be churches of Christ is the best, the proper character of every religious society; and, speaking the truth in love, let them grow up in all things to Him who is their Head, even Christ.
Look forward to the happiness before you. Ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall come in his glory, shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Thou hast a few names in Sardis which have not de
* 1 Cor. i. 12, 13.
filed their garments; they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy. To aged Christians I may say, you shall in a little while enter into the better country. See that your meetness for it is advancing. You shall soon take leave of your connexions here; and shall you not travail as in birth till Christ be formed in your children and friends the hope of glory? They must be united with you now in the graces of piety if you wish your parting to be comfortable, or your meeting again to be happy; and the more eminent they are in holiness, the more will it redound to their honour and felicity, and to your own.
Let unconverted men consider that they are led captive by Satan at his will; and such is the folly of the sinner, that he is insensible of his bondage. The principles which actuate you are the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life; and by these the soul is degraded and cursed. The path in which you walk is broad and crowded, but it leads to destruction. Think not that you can attain happiness in the course you are now pursuing. You are following phantoms that flee from your grasp; and could you grasp them even when they appear in most enchanting beauty, you would find them emptiness and vanity. In the path in which you walk you have no reason to expect exemption from perils and sorrows. Your bright sun will soon be clouded; and from the darkness the storm shall descend on you. Death will soon approach you riding on his pale horse, and hell following with him. The place of your inheritance shall be the prison of darkness, and the portion of your cup the fierce wrath of God. Yet to