Зображення сторінки

orders of this creation is to be found my attachment. And if, therefore, we in conformity to the revealed will of lived in times when a mighty infidelity God. We are sure, whatever schemes was pervading our cities and our vilmay be devised for the amelioration of lages, and men were advancing by rakuman condition, that the happiness of pid strides towards an open contempt, a people is closely bound up with its or denial of God; the divine law, if we righteousness, and that the greater the had ever learnt to prize it, would comdeparture from God the greater the mend itself increasingly to our affecmisery introduced into its families. It tions, as impiety went onward to its is no unwarranted assertion, but one consummation. We should more and which will stand every test to which more recognize the power of this law it can fairly be brought, that the de- to confer happiness, because we should cline of a nation's prosperity keeps more and more observe how the despipace with the decline of its piety, and sing it produced misery. We should that in banishing true religion you ban- more and more perceive in it an enish the chief elements of its greatness gine for counteracting human degenand security.

eracy, because there would be, on all And what is the condition of a land, sides, the material of conviction, that, when its inhabitants have literally made in setting it aside, men sank to the lowvoid God's law? The experiment was est level of degradation. We should tried in the heart of civilized Europe; more and more regard it as the best and we all know what fearful scenes boon which God had conferred on this were enacted on the stage of revolu- creation, because we should increastionized France, when atheism was the ingly discover that it could only be reonly creed which the nation would pro- moved by substituting a fearful curse fess. We have no instance in history in its stead. And would not then this of a people throwing equal scorn on law appear more deserving than ever their Creator, and neither have we of our veneration and attachment ? If any of a people being plunged in equal we ever before prized it above gold, depths of misery. There was then giv- should we not now prize it above fine en a demonstration, never to be forgot- gold? There are two ways in which ten, that to throw off the restraints of the commandments of God prove equal. religion is to proclaim the carnival of ly their excellence-by the blessed reanarchy and bloodshed; and that the sults which follow on obedience, and getting quit of the fear of God is the by the tremendous results which fol. surest mode of undermining govern- low on disobedience. The former are ment, invading the rights of property, to be seen when the law is observed, and turning a civilized people into a the latter when that law is made void. horde of barbarians and assassins. But But since, in each case, the same truth if such be the consequences of making is exhibited—that of the power of the void God's law, what effect will be law to confer happiness-in each case, wrought upon the few by whom that the same reason is given why the law law is yet reverenced and prized ? Cer should be increasingly the object of tainly, not that they will love the law our love. less, but rather that they will love it We will take a simple instance, and more. If I saw thousands writhing in gather from it the principle on which incurable agony, and could trace the we now insist. A young person is born tremendous disease to the gradual dis- of religious parents, and educated in use, and, at length, final rejection of a the fear of the Almighty. But the famedicine, beyond all doubt that medi- ther and mother have been gathered to cine would appear to me more precious the grave, and the temptations of the than ever; and it would be from the world prevail over their instructions, throwing away of this medicine that I and the child becomes the irreligious best learnt its value. In like manner, and profligate. He passes from one if I can see that the making void God's degree of wickedness to another, till law is the most effectual mode of cov- at length, as the perpetrator of some ering a land with wretchedness, un- fearful crime, he waits the shame of a questionably it is in the being made public execution. And in this condivoid that this law displays its claims to tion he is visited by a clergyman, who perhaps remembers the days of his would be into such a form as this that youth, whilst his honored parents were his reflections would shape themselves, yet alive, and himself an inmate of the --indeed, Lord, he hath made void thy village-school. It is a grievous and law; therefore, as for me, sickening spectacle, that, of. one who I love thy commandments above gold, was cradled in piety, and into whose yea, above fine gold.” opening intelligence were distilled the Now it is not difficult thus to trace precepts of righteousness, thus lying a connection between the making void as an outcast, branded with indignity, of God's law, and the heightened love and expecting the penalty of death. which the righteous entertain to that And the minister asks of him the his law. The law cannot be made void, tory of his guilt, how it came to pass whether nationally or individually, that he wandered so far, and so fatally without an accompanying demonstrafrom uprightness. The whole is traced tion that it is both designed and adaptto neglect of the commandments of ed to bless the human race. And we God,-a neglect which began perhaps need not add, that every sueh demonin minor points, but rapidly increased stration enhances the worth of the law till the whole law was made void. And in the estimation of the righteous, so we shall not attempt to tell you with that the transition is very natural from what bitterness of soul, and what in the statement of a general profligacy of tenseness of self-reproach, the crimi- manners to that of an increased love to nal recalls the dying looks and words the commandments of God. of his parents, as they bequeathed him But we have yet another mode in the Bible as his best treasure, and be which to exhibit the connection besought him, with many tears, to take tween the verses, though it may have

precepts as his guide. The upper- already suggested itself to your minds. most and crushing feelings in his spirit -We have hitherto supposed the is, that, had he followed the parting ad strengthened attachment which David vice of his father and mother, he would expresses towards the law, to have have lived honorably and happily, and been produced by the fact that this would never have thus become a by- law was made void. But we now refer word and an execration ; every thing it to the fact that it was time for God earthly shipwrecked, and nothing hea- to work. We consider, that is, that venly secured. But we only want to when the Psalmist says, " therefore I know what would be the thoughts of love thy commandments above gold, the minister in regard of God's com- yea, above fine gold,” the reason is to mandments, as he retired from the cell be found in the character of the times, where he had delivered the messages in the season being one at which God of the Gospel. He has been looking on must bring judgments on the earth. an instance of the consequences of "Since thy law is made void, it is time making void the divine law. He can for thee, 'Lord, to interfere in vennot but contrast what the criminal is, geance; and, on this account, because with what he would have been, had he wrath must be let loose, therefore I not made void that law. And does he love thy commandments above gold, not gather from the contrast a higher yea, above fine gold.” sense than he had before entertained And if this be regarded as the conof the excellence of that law, and of its nection between the verses, you will might in contributing to the present, readily admit that there is abundant as well as future welfare of mankind ? | force in the reason of the Psalmist. If We can quite believe that, as he re- there be one season at which, more treated from the overpowering scene, than at another, the righteous feel the his mind agonized by the thought that worth of revelation, and the blessedness one, of whom he had augured well, was of obeying its precepts, the season thus hopelessly reduced to a desolate must be that of danger and trouble. and ruined thing, the value of God's Whether the danger and trouble be law, as a rule of human conduct, and a public or domestic; whether it be his safeguard of human happiness, would country, or only his own household, be felt by him in a degree which he over which calamity hangs; the man had never yet experienced; and that it of piety finds a consolation in religion

which makes him more than ever prize for God to work, than that of love to the revealed will of God. There is a the divine law? If they see trouble beauty and energy in the Bible which approaching, what will they do but nothing but affliction can bring out and cling with greater earnestness to that display; and men know comparatively which alone can support them, and little of the preciousness of Scriptu- which they know will never fail ? Will ral promises, and the magnificence of not their affection to God's word be Scriptural hopes, until placed in cir- vastly enhanced by the consciousness cumstances of difficulty and distress. that they are about to be in circumThere are always one or two stations stances when the promises of that from which you gain the best view of word must be put to the proof, and by a noble and diversified landscape ; and the certainty that the putting them to it is when "constrained to dwell with the proof will issue in their thorough Mesheck, and to have our habitation fulfilment ? If they have loved the word among the tents of Kedar," that our above gold in the hour of prosperigaze includes most of what is glorious ty, they must love it above fine gold, and brilliant in the scheme of divine as they mark the gatherings of advermercy. It is the promise of God in sity. the 91st Psalm-a promise addressed " It is time for thec, Lord, to work.” to every one who makes God his trust, " They have forsaken thy covenant, -"I will be with him in trouble.' thrown down thy altars, and slain thy But when or where is not God with prophets with the sword;" and the us? Whither shall I go from thy Spi- Judge of men must arise, and vindirit, or whither shall I flee from thy cate his insulted authority. But I know presence ? Indeed we well know that on whom the mark of deliverance will every where is the universe full of be set, when the men with the slaughDeity, and that, at no time, and in no ter-weapons are commanded to pass place, can we be at a distance from through the land. I know that where God; and yet, as though in the day of there is obedience to thy law, there darkness and disaster, the Omnipre- will be security from thy wrath. And sent could so redouble his presence, hence that law is more precious in my that every other day should be, in sight than it ever was before-"it is comparison, one of absence, the pro- time for thee to work; therefore I love mise is, "I will be with him in trou- thy commandments above gold; yea, ble." And the promise is so fulfilled above fine gold." in the experience of the righteous, that " It is time for thee, Lord, to work.” they will own their sorrows to have There is much in myself which requires been far more than compensated by the the processes of the refiner, much of consolations afforded in the hour of the corruptible to be removed, much tribulation, so that it would have been of the dross to be purged away. But clearly for their loss to have escaped if it be needful that I be cast into the their trials. They are gainers by their furnace of affliction, I have thy pretroubles—for God removes no good cepts to which to cling, thy promises without leaving a greater; if he takes on which to rest. I find that thy word away an earthly friend, he gives them comforts me in the prospect; I know more of himself. Such we affirm to be that it will sustain me in the endurance; the experience of the righteous; and and hence, because it is time for thee we are co

dent that we might appeal to work, therefore is thy word dearer to many of our hearers for evidence to me "than the gold, yea, than the that we overstate not this experience. fine gold.” There are many of you who can testi- It is time for thee, Lord, to work." fy to a power in the Bible of which The season of my pilgrimage draws to you were not conscious, and to a sup- a close; the earthly house of this taporting energy in divine grace, which bernacle must be taken down; and the you scarcely suspected, until your hour is at hand when thou wilt recall households were invaded by calamity. my spirit, and summon me to the judg. And if such be the fact, what feeling ment seat. Great God! what can be of will be more excited in the righteous, worth to me in a time such as this ? when compelled to own that it is time What can I value, when every thing earthly is slipping from my hold? | word, O my God! The gold, and the Thy commandments-commandments fine gold, can profit me nothing; for which direct me to believe upon thy " it is time for thee to work," and Son—thy law, a law so obeyed by the earth, with all its treasures, must be Mediator in my stead, that its every left. But thy commandments—a comprecept acquits me, and its every re- mandment that death be swallowed up ward awaits me—these are precious in victory, a commandment that the to me, unspeakably more precious than corruptible put on incorruption, a com ever before. I know that thy strange mandment that new heavens and a new work must be wrought on me, the earth rise as the everlasting home of work of dissolution. I know that the righteousness—these give me gladness time is come, when I must go hence as I enter the dark valley; these I and be no more seen. But I know also would not barter for the richest and that, "till heaven and earth pass, one costliest of earthly things—" it is time jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass for thee, Lord, to work : therefore I from thy law.” I know that "blessed love thy commandments above gold, are they that do his commandments, yea, above fine gold.” that they may have right to the tree We have nothing to add but an earof life, and may enter in through the nest prayer that we may all be able to gates into the city.” The nearer, there- say from the heart with David, "Ob, fore, the approaches of death, the more how I love thy law; it is my meditaworthless appears every thing but thy tion all thy day.”



"For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have come

mitted unto him against that day.”—2 Timothy, 1 : 12.

You will observe, if you consult the ly in mind that Deity, united with hucontext of this passage, that St. Paul manity in the Mediator's person, conis speaking of our Redeemer. In the stituted that object of faith which had tenth verse he had made mention of been proved so trust-worthy by the our Savior Jesus Christ, as having teacher of the Gentiles. abolished death, and brought life and Now there is an important distincimmortality to light through the Gospel. tion to be drawn between experience The discourse is then continuous up to and faith, and which is clearly marked the words which I have just read to out to us by these words of the aposyou; so that we are not left in doubt tle. It is certain that a man cannot be as to the being upon whom St. Paul saved without faith, but it is just as fastened his faith. It was Christ with certain that he may be saved without whom the apostle had left some great experience. You must all perceive that deposit, and of whose power and faith- if the matter under review be the powe fulness he expresses his deep-wrought er and sufficiency of the Savior, there persuasion. And it will therefore be must be faith before there can be ex. our business, in any inquiries to which perience. We can know nothing of this passage may lead, to bear careful. Christ, except by rumor and hearsay,


until we believe in him. But unques- , uneducated believer is more easily tionably we might believe in him, and overborne than a well-educated, by the then the arrest of death coming upon doubts and objections of infidelity. If us at the instant of the outputting of the illiterate man be not so able as the faith, all personal knowledge of him instructed, to expose the hollowness, must be referred to another and a and to demonstrate the fallacy of the higher state of being. So that it would reasoning by which he is assailed, he be accurate to say, that while faith is will be to the full as rigorous in his indispensable, experience is not indis- resistance of the attack, and will be no pensable to salvation. We have ta- more shaken from his faith through ken, however, the extreme case. And want of acquaintance with the evidenthough it be certainly supposable that ces of christianity, than if he were a man might enter into heaven without equipped with all that armor of proof experience, properly so called, yet it which has been heaped together by the is true, as a general rule, that faith learned of the earth. And we hold the will be followed by experience, and explanation of the phenomenon to be, that whosoever believes in Christ will that the poor man knows whom he hath go on to know whom he hath believed. believed. If he can make no appeal to We may therefore say of experience, history and to science, and so fetch no that it is a kind of touchstone to which witness from the records of the earth faith should be brought. For whilst we and its inhabitants, he can travel into the would set ourselves most earnestly, world which lies within himself; and and most assiduously, against the re- he gathers from what has been transsolving religion into a mere thing of acted there, and experienced there, a frames and of feelings, we are bound mightier testimony than was to hold that it is no matter of frigid or wrung from external evidence. When heartless speculation, but that a real he began to believe, it may be true christian must have a real sense of the that he could give but little account of power and preciousness of Christ. We any ground-work on which he builded consider that it would be altogether his faith. But as he goes on believing, idle to maintain that a man may believe his faith may be said to become more in Christ as a Savior for months or and more built upon knowledge; and years, and yet have no witness in him- there will be wrought in him gradualself to the energies of that Being toly, through his own personal experiwards whom his faith is directed. Faith ence of the power and faithfulness of is that mighty, though mysterious prin- the Savior, something of the persuasion ciple, which attaches a man to Christ. which is expressed by St. Paul, and And we may fairly set it down as im- which will more than supply the place possible that there should be actual of those ramparts against infidelity membership between ourselves and the which have been thrown up by the laMediator, and yet nothing of personal bors of the champions of christianity. practical acquaintance with his susfi- And though we have directed our reciencies for the office which he fills. He marks to the case of the poor and the who believes will taste and see that the illiterate, we would not have it thought Lord is gracious; and knowledge be- that they are inapplicable to others. It ing superadded to faith, he will be his is quite evident that the great apostle own testimony that the Bible is no cun. himself, than whom there hath never ningly-devised fable; but that Christ arisen a man better able to demoncrucified, though unto the Jews a stum- strate, on external grounds, that Jesus bling-block, and unto the Greeks fool. was the Christ, strengthened his faith ishness, is nevertheless the power of by his knowledge, and fetched out of God and the wisdom of God.

his own experience his choicest proof of And we think it worth while to ob- the fulness which is laid up in the Saserve, before we quit these introducto- vior. And thus with ourselves; whatry remarks, that experience thus cor- ever our rank in society, and whatever roborating faith, is at the root of that our advantages of education, we must stanchness which poor men will ex: place ourselves on the same level with hibit when plied with the arguments of the mean and the uninstructed, when the sceptic. You will not find that an searching out the best evidence that

« НазадПродовжити »