Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

mans to the apostle toiling at Corinth. ness. It will throw ardor into the spir. And when I look on the labors of the it, and fire into the eye, and vigor into tent-maker, and infer from them that the limb. I shall cut away the boat, and miracles must not be expected where let drive all human devices, and gird means have been instituted, and that, myself, amid the fierceness of the temconsequently, whensoever God has ap- pest, to steer the shattered vessel into pointed means, miracle is to be looked port. for only in their use; oh, in place of Now having thus examined the realoitering because I have read of elec- sons why St. Paul was left dependent tion, I would gird up the loins as hav- upon labor for subsistence, we hasten ing gazed on the tent-making; and in at once to wind up our subject. We place of running not, because it is " of have had under review two great and God that showeth mercy,” run might interesting truths. We have seen that and main, because it is to those who labor is God's ordinance. Be it yours, are running that he shows it.

therefore, to strive earnestly that your When God decrees an end, he de- worldly callings may be sanctified, so crees also the means. If then he have that trade may be the helpmate of relielected me to obtain salvation in the gion, instead of its foe and assassin. next life, he has elected me to the prac. We have seen, also, that, when God has tice of holiness in this life. Would I instituted means, we can have no right ascertain my election to the blessed to be looking for miracles. Will ye ness of eternity ? it must be by prac- then sit still, expecting God to compel tically demonstrating my election to you to move? Will ye expose yournewness of life. It is not by the rap- selves wantonly to temptation, expectture of feeling, and by the luxuriance ing God to make you impregnable? of thought, and by the warmth of those Will ye take the viper to your bodesires which descriptions of heaven soms, expecting God to charm away may stir up within me, that I can prove the sting? Will ye tamper with the myself predestined to a glorious in. poison-cup, expecting God to neutralheritance. If I would find out what is ize the hemlock? Then why did not hidden, I must follow what is revealed. St. Paul, in place of working the canThe way to heaven is disclosed; am I vass into a tent, expect God to convert walking in that way? It would be poor it into food? We do not idolize means. proof that I were on my voyage to In- We do not substitute the means of dia, that, with glowing eloquence and grace for grace itself. But this we say thrilling poetry, I could discourse on -and we beseech you to carry with the palm-groves and the spice-isles of you the truth to your homes-when the East. Am I on the waters? Is the God has made a channel, he may be sail hoisted to the wind; and does the expected to send through that channel land of my birth look blue and faint in the flowings of his mercy. Oh! that the distance? The doctrine of election ye were anxious; that

ye

would take may have done harm to many—but your right place in creation, and feel only because they have fancied them- yourselves immortal! Be men, and ye selves elected to the end, and have for- make a vast advance towards being gotten that those whom Scripture calls Christians. Many of you have long reelected are elected to the means. The fused to labor to be saved. The impleBible never speaks of men as elected ments are in your hands, but you will to be saved from the shipwreck; but not work at the tent-making. Ye will only as elected to tighten the ropes, not pray ; ye will not shun temptation; and hoist the sails, and stand to the ye will not renounce known sin ; ye rudder. Let a man search faithfully; will not fight against evil habits. Are let him see that when Scripture de- ye stronger than God? Can ye conscribes christians as elected, it is, as tend with the Eternal One ? Have ye elected to faith, as elected to sanctifi- the nerve which shall not tremble, and cation, as elected to obedience; and the flesh which shall not quiver, and the doctrine of election will be nothing the soul which shall not quail, when but a stimulus to effort. It cannot act the sheet of fire is round the globe, as a soporific. It cannot lull me into and thousand times ten thousand ansecurity. It cannot engender licentious- Igels line the sky, and call to judgment ?

If we had a spell by which to bind the fear and trembling, work out salvation. ministers of vengeance, we might go There shall yet burst on this creation a on in idleness. If we had a charm by day of fire and of storm, and of blood which to take what is scorching from -oh! conform yourselves to the simthe flame, and what is gnawing from ple prescriptions of the Bible; seek the worm, we might continue the care- the aids of God's Spirit by prayer, and less. But if we can feel; if we are not ye shall be led to lay hold on Christ pain-proof; if we are not wrath-proof; Jesus by faith. let us arise, and be doing, and, with

SERMON X.

THE ADVANTAGES OF A STATE OF EXPECTATION.

" It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord."

Lamentations, 3 : 26.

You will find it said in the Book of disappointment from the overthrow and Ecclesiastes, "Because to every pur- failure of long-cherished purposes. pose there is time and judgment, there- And, of course, if we possessed the fore the misery of man is great upon same mastery of the future as of the him.” Eccl. 8:6. It seems to us im- past, we should enter upon nothing plied in these words, that our incapa- which was sure to turn out ill; but, city of looking into the future has much regulating ourselves in every undertakto do with the production of disquie. ing by fore-known results, avoid much tude and unhappiness. And there is no of previous debate and of after regret. question, that the darkness in which Yet when we have admitted, that want we are compelled to proceed, and the of acquaintance with the future gives uncertainty which hangs round the is- rise to much both of anxiety and of dissues of our best-arranged schemes, con- appointment, we are prepared to argue, tribute much to the troubles and per- that the possession of this acquaintplexities of life. Under the present dis- ance would be incalculably more detri. pensation we must calculate on proba- mental. It is quite true that there are bilities; and our calculations, when forms and portions of trouble which made with the best care and fore- might be warded off or escaped, if we thought, are often proved faulty by the could behold what is coming, and take result. And if we could substitute cer- measures accordingly. But it is to the tainty for probability, and thus define, full as true, that the main of what shall with a thorough accuracy, the work- befall us is matter of irrevocable apings of any proposed plan, it is evident pointment, to be averted by no pruthat we might be saved a vast amount dence, and dispersed hy no bravery: both of anxiety and of disappointment. And if we could know beforehand Much of our anxiety is now derived whatever is to happen, we should, in all from the doubtfulness of the success of probability, be unmanned and enervatschemes, and from the likelihood of ob- ed; so that an arrest would be put on struction and mischance : much of our the businesses of life by previous acquaintance with their several successes. cy would be more advantageous than The parent, who is pouring his at- instant, and that profit might be deritention on the education of a child, or ved from expectation as well as from laboring to procure for him advance- possession. If we paraphrase his words, ment and independence, would be un- we may consider him saying to the able to go forward with his efforts, if stricken and disconsolate Jews, you certified that he must follow that child wish an immediate interference of God to the grave so soon as he had fitted on behalf of your city and nation. You him for society and occupation. And desire, that, without a moment's delay, even if the map were a bright one, so the captive tribes should march back that we looked on sunny things as fix- from Babylon, and Jerusalem rise again ed for our portion, familiarity with the in her beauty and her strength. But if prospect would deteriorate it to our this wish were complied with, it would imagination ; and blessings would seem be at the expense of much of the beneto us of less and less worth, as they fit derivable from affliction : for" it is came on us more and more as matters good that a man should both hope and of course. In real truth, it is our igno- quietly wait for the salvation of the rance of what shall happen which stimu- Lord.” lates exertion: we are so constituted Thus the original design of the that to deprive us of hope would be to passage would warrant our taking a make us inactive and wretched. And, large sweep in its explanation, and therefore, do we hold that one great leading you over that range of inquiry proof of God's loving-kindness towards which is opened by our introductory us, may be fetched from that impene- remarks. We might dilate on the adtrable concealment in which he wraps vantageousness of the existing arrangeup to-morrow. We long indeed to bring ment, and its wondrous adaptation to to-morrow into to-day, and strain the our moral constitution.

We might eye in the fruitless endeavor to scan show you, by references to the enits occurrences. But it is, in a great gagements and intercourses of life, degree, my ignorance of to-morrow that it is for our profit that we be unwhich makes me vigilant, and energet certain as to issues, and, therefore, reic, and pains-taking, to-day. And if I quired both to hope and to wait. We could see to-day that a great calamity doubt whether you could imagine a or a great success would undoubtedly finer discipline for the human mind, befall me to-morrow, the likelihood is than results from the fixed impossibilithat I should be so overcome, either ty of our grasping two moments at by sorrow or by delight, as to be unfit- once. The chief opponent to that feelted for those duties with which the ing of independence which man natupresent hour is charged.

rally cherishes, but always to his own Now it were easy to employ our hurt, is his utter ignorance of the selves in examining, more in detail, the events of the next minute. For who bearings on our temporal well-being of can boast, or who can feel himself, inthat hiding of the future to which we dependent, whilst unable to insure anhave adverted. Neither would such other beat of the pulse, or to decide examination be out of place in a dis- whether, before he can count two, he course on the words of our text. The shall be spoiled of life or reduced to prophet refers chiefly to temporal de- beggary? It is only in proportion as liverance, when mentioning the sal- men close their eyes to their absolute vation of the Lord.” Judah had gone want of mastership over the future, that into captivity: and Jerusalem, hereto- they encourage themselves in the defore a queen amongst the cities, sat lusion of independence. If they owned, widowed and desolate. Yet Jeremiah and selt themselves, the possessors of was persuaded that the Lord would a single moment, with no more power "not cast off for ever;" Lam. 3:31; to secure the following than if the proand he, therefore, encouraged the rem- posed period were a thousand centunant of his countrymen to expect a bet- ries, we might set it down as an unter and brighter season. He does not, avoidable consequence, that they would indeed, predict immediate restoration. shun the presumption of so acting for But then he asserts that delayed mer- themselves as though God were exclu.

ded from superintending their affairs. shall demand irresistibly his condemAnd if there were introduced an op-nation at any oncoming trial, if he carposite arrangement; if men were no ry it with a high and independent hand longer placed under a system compel. against the being thus proved the unling them to hope and to wait; you controlled lord of his destinies. may all see that the acquired power But we feel it necessary to bring our over the future would produce, in ma- inquiry within narrower limits, and to ny quarters, an infidel contempt, or de- take the expression, " the salvation of nial, of Providence: so that, by admit- the Lord,” in that more restrained ting men to a closer inspection of his sense which it bears ordinarily in Scripworkings, God would throw them fur- ture. We shall employ, therefore, the ther off from acquaintance with him- remainder of our time in endeavoring self and reverence of his majesties. to prove to you, by the simplest reaThus the goodness of the existing ar- soning, that it is for our advantage as rangement is matter of easy demonstra- christians that salvation, in place of tion, when that arrangement is consi- being a thing of certainty and present dered as including the affairs of every- possession, must be hoped and quietly day life. If you look at the consum- waited for by believers. mation as ordinarily lar removed from Now whilst it is the business of a the formation of a purpose, there is, christian minister to guard you against we again say, a fine moral discipline presumption, and an uncalculating conin the intervening suspense. That men fidence that you are safe for eternity, may withstand, or overlook, the disci- it is also his duty to rouse you to a pline, and so miss its advantages, tells sense of your privileges, and to press nothing against either its existence, on you the importance of ascertaining or its excellence. And the necessity your title to immortality. We think it which is laid on the husbandman, tbat, not necessarily a proof of christian huafter sowing the seed, he wait long for mility, that you should be always in the harvest-time, in hope, but not cer- doubt of your spiritual state, and so tainty; and upon the merchantman, live uncertain whether, in the event of that, aster dispatching his ships, he death, you would pass into glory. We wait long for the products of com- are bound to declare that Scripture merce, hoping, but far enough from makes the marks of true religion clear sure, that the voyage and the traffic and decisive; and that, if we will but will be prosperous; this necessity, we apply, faithfully and fearlessly, the sesay, for hoping and waiting reads the veral criteria furnished by its statebest of all lessons as to actual depend ments, it cannot remain a problem, ence on an invisible being; and thus which the last judgment only can solve, verisies our position, that, whatever the whether it be the broad way, or the desired advantage, "it is good that a narrow, in which we now walk. But, man should both bope and quietly wait nevertheless, the best assurance to for" its possession. Ay, and we are well which a christian can attain must leave convinced that there cannot be found a salvation a thing chiefly of hope. We nobler argument for the existence of find it expressly declared by St. Paul a stanch inoral government over the to the Romans, we are saved by creatures of our race, than results from hope.” Rom. 8:24. And they who are this imposed necessity that there elapse most persuaded, and that too by scripa period, and that too a period full of tural warrant, that they are in a state uncertainties, between the forming and of salvation, can never declare themcompleting a design. Amid all the mu- selves, except in the most limited sense, tiny and uproar of our present torn in its fruition or enjoyment; but must and disorganized condition, there is a always live mainly upon hope, though voice, in our utter powerlessness to with occasional foretastes of coming make sure of the future, which conti- delights. They can reach the conclu nually recalls man from his rebellion sion-and a comforting and noble con and scepticism; and which, proclaim- clusion it is—that they are justified ing, in accents not to be overborne by beings, as having been enabled to act the fiercest tempest of passion, that he faith on a Mediator. But whilst justifiholds every thing at the will of another,cation insures them salvation, it puts

[ocr errors]

them not into its present possession. destroyed, and the world be deprived It is thus again that St. Paul distin. of that salt which alone preserves it guishes between justification and sal from total decomposition. We believe vation, saying of Christ, " being now that when Christ declared of his foljustified by his blood, we shall be saved lowers, “ye are the salt of the earth,” from wrath through him.” Rom. 5 : 9. Matthew, 5 : 13, he delivered a saying So that the knowing ourselves justified which described, with singular fidelity, is the highest thing attainable on earth; the power of righteousness to stay and salvation itself, though certain to be correct the disorganizations of manreached, remaining an object for which kind. As applied to the apostles the we must hope, and for which we must definition was especially accurate. wait.

There lay before them a world distinNow it is the goodness of this ar- guished by nothing so much as by rangement which is asserted in our corruption of doctrine and manners. text. We can readily suppose an op- Though philosophy was at its height; posite arrangement. We can imagine though reason had achieved her proudthat, as soon as a man were justified, est triumphs; though arts were in their he might be translated to blessedness, maturity; though eloquence was then and that thus the gaining the title, and most finished, and poetry most harmothe entering on possession, might be nious; there reigned over the whole always contemporary. Since the being face of the globe a tremendous ignojustified is the being accepted in God's rance of God: and if humanity were sight, and counted perfectly righteous, not actually an unsound and putrid there would seem no insurmountable mass, it had in it every element of dereason why the justified man should be cay, so that, if longer abandoned to left, a single moment, a wanderer in itself, it must have fallen into incurable the desert; or why the instant of the disease, and become covered with the exertion of saving faith, inasmuch as livid spots of total dissolution. And that exertion makes sure the salvation, when, by divine commission, the disshould not also be the instant of en- ciples penetrated the recesses of this trance into glory. To question the pos- mass, carrying with them principles, sibility of such an arrangement, would and truths, exactly calculated to stay be to question the possibility of an out- the moral ruin which was spreading putting of faith at the last moment of with fearsul rapidity—when they went life; for, unless what is called death. forth, the bearers of celestial commubed repentance be distinctly an impos. nications which taught the soul to feel sible thing, the case is clearly sup- herself immortal, and, therefore, indeposable of the justifying act being im- structible; which lifted even the body mediately followed by admission into out of the grasp of decay, teaching heaven.

that bone, and sinew, and flesh should But the possibility of the arrange- be made at last gloriously incorruptible ment, and its goodness, are quite dif- —when, we say, the disciples thus apferent questions; and whilst we see plied to the world a remedy, perfect in that it might have been ordered, that every respect, against those tendencies the justified man should at once be to corruption which threatened to turn translated, we can still believe it good our globe into the lazar-house of creathat he “ both hope and quietly wait tion; were they not to be regarded as for the salvation of the Lord.” Our the purifiers and preservers of men, text speaks chiefly of the goodness to and could any title be more just than the individual himself; but it will be one which defined them, in their strivlawful first to consider the arrangement ings to overspread a diseased world as fraught with advantage to human with healthfulness, as literally “the society.

salt of the earth ?” We must all perceive, that, if true But it holds good in every age that believers were withdrawn from earth true believers are “the salt of the at the instant of their becoming such, earth." Whilst the contempt and hathe influences of piety, which now tred of the wicked follow incessantly make themselves felt through the mass the professors of godliness, and the of a population, would be altogether enemies of Christ, if ability were com

« НазадПродовжити »