« VorigeDoorgaan »
ings which we have received from heaven? If we bear no fruit, we shall soon be rejected. God has let us alone this year. But behold, the ax is laid to the root of the trees; every tree that beareth not good fruit, will be hewn down and cast into the fire. The field, which bringeth forth herbs, meet for him by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God. But that which beareth thorns and briars, is nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burned.
Lastly. Harvest reminds us of our obligation to faith and patience
We have a kind of natural faith, which, standing on the ground of past experience, looks forward with expectation of a future harvest. Let Christians, enlightened by Revelation, look beyond this world to things unseen; and, relying on the promise, truth, and grace of God, anticipate the blessings of the heavenly state. In full persuasion of the glory revealed, let them patiently endure the trials, and cheerfully perform the duties, allotted them in the present world. Let them not be weary in welldoing, but abound in the work of the Lord, knowing, that in due time, they shall reap, if they faint not; and if they sow bountifully, they shall reap also bountifully.
They have need of patience, that, after they have done the will of God, they may inherit the promises. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, till he receive the early and the latter rain. Be ye also patient, stablish your hearts, for the coming of the lord draweth nigh. God is not unrighteous to forget your work of faith, your labour of love, and your patience of hope: Give diligence, therefore, to the full assurance of hope to the end; and be not slothful, but followers of them, who through faith and patience, inherit the prom
The Fearfulness of our Frame illustrated and improved.
PSALM, cxxxix. 14.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
THAT HAT we are wonderfully made, we are immediately convinced, whenever we contemplate our frame.
What a variety of parts are formed, and of uses designed within the compass of a human body? How exactly is every part adapted to its purpose, and one part adjusted to another? All the parts of this complex body are created and nourished from the same earth; and yet how various is their texture and consistence? How firm and solid the bones, how soft and pliant the flesh, how tough and flexible the muscles, how fine and feeling the nerves, how quick and lively the organs of sensation, how promptly the limbs obey the dictates of the will?
Wonderful is the structure of the vessels, which receive and distribute the nutriment, convey the blood, and carry on the respiration; and no less wonderful is the action of those vessels in performing their respective functions. Mysterious is the
power of that animal motion; on which life depends. That of the stomach, heart and lungs is involuntaWe can give no other account of it, than that which the Apostle gives, "In God we live, and move, and have our being," The motion of our Imbs is indeed voluntary; but it is as mysterious as the other. How it is that a mere act of our will contracts or extends the muscles of a leg, arm or finger; and how it is that our volition imparts motion to our own, rather than to any other body, no philosopher, or anatomist can explain.
The mind is still more wonderful than the body. This cannot be an object of sense. It is, however, an object of immediate consciousness. We perceive that there is something within us superior to that gross matter, of which the body consists. We can think, reason and reflect; we can review and contemplate our own thoughts; we can call to remembrance things past, and can look forward and make conjectures on things to come. In our meditations we can, in a moment, pass to distant regions, and to distant worlds, and thence return at our pleasure.
This mind is, in some inexplicable manner, united to the body. It receives all its information by means of the bodily organs. A disorder of body deranges the powers of the mind. Afflictions and sorrows of mind debilitate and waste the body. Hence we know, that there is a union between these constituent parts of man. This union is necessary to the present state; but the nature of it, wherein it consists, how it is preserved, how the soul can act in the body, how it will receive and communicate ideas in a state of separation from the body, we cannot, at present, understand.
That the soul can act in a state of separation, there is no doubt; for we find, that even now the greater part of its exercises are independent of the VOL. I,
bodily senses. It is indeed dependent on these for the first reception of its ideas; but when it has received them, it can review and compare them, and make deductions from them, without aid from the
We are a mystery to ourselves. We cannot explain the powers, which we possess; nor the motions and actions, which we daily perform. Well may it be said, "We are wonderfully made."
Shall we think it an objection against the credibility of the gospel, that it contains incomprehensible things? We are as incomprehensible to ourselves, as are the profoundest doctrines in revelation. And yet we exist.
But how are we to understand the Psalmist, when says, "We are fearfully made ?" To this enquiry we shall chiefly attend.
1. The expression imports the dignity of man in comparison with other creatures in this lower world.
Man is so made, that the sight of him impresses a terror on the beasts of the earth. Moses tells us, "God made man in his own image, and gave him dominion over every beast of the earth." When Noah came forth from the ark, God blessed him and his sons, and said, "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. And the fear of you, and the dread of you, shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon all that moveth on the earth. Into your hand they are delivered." To the same purpose are the words of the Psalmist; "God made man a little lower than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honour, and gave him dominion over the works of his hands, and put all things under his feet."
Many of the animals are superior to man in strength and activity, and armed with weapons of destruction superior to any, which man naturally
possesses for his defence; yet the most ferocious of them will retreat before him. If they ever assault him, it is in some peculiar circumstance; when they are jealous for their young, provoked with wounds, or enraged by hunger. There is something in the human attitude and aspect which strikes them with terror, and restrains their ferocity. Yea, many of the beasts readily submit to man's dominion, and suffer him to employ their superior strength in his service. "Every kind of beasts is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind.”
Were it not for this dread of man, which is impressed on the beasts of the earth,, we must always stand armed for our defence against them; the wil derness would remain their exclusive habitation; our life would be a state of anxiety and terror; we could neither occupy the fields, nor walk the roads, nor sleep in our houses with safety.
If God has given us dominion over the beasts of the earth, we ought to exercise this dominion with justice and humanity. Noxious and mischievous animals we doubtless have a right to destroy, but never to torture with wanton cruelty. Beasts, which are capable of labour, we may employ in our ser vice, but not treat with passionate severity, or unmerciful rigour. Creatures, whose flesh is nutritive to the human body, we are allowed to slay for food; but not to torment with lingering death. In a word, we may never put any creature to unnecessary pain. To do this is morally wrong. It discovers a want of humanity. "A righteous man is merciful to his beast." God, in the law which he gave to the Jews, provided, that the labouring cattle should have their seasons of rest, as well as competent supplies of food. He guarded them against that cruel treatment, which they too often are liable to receive from unfeeling masters.