Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and clearly show that it is very possible to come to a fearful end, although the skies are clear, and the sun shines, and the fondest anticipations beguile the soul. I have already adverted to these, as among the causes, to the facilities which cluster upon the broad road, and that assume every Proteus form and chameleon hue, lest the hapless victim should be diverted from their pursuit, and by any means turn his back upon them.

One among the number is of this nature. The sinner is frequently to be found travelling in that fatal path entirely unconscious of his real condition. It is thus when his salvation is supposed to depend upon the mere principles of worldly wisdom. In conformity to its dictates, the servant is entitled to his wages, the physician to his fee, the statesman to the emoluments of his office. And a similar process of reasoning is applied to the concerns of eternity. Its rewards are anticipated on the ground of personal desert. The good works of this life are thought to purchase an indefeisible right to But what a wretched perthe inheritance of the saints in light. version of holy scripture must this be, when its language is so clear and perspicuous, that he who runs may read: "Believe on the "Christ is the end of Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." "After that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but ac"When ye shall have done all cording to his mercy he saved us." those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: We have done that which was our duty to do."

There is indeed not one single passage in the bible, that will fairly admit of a different construction. And how loose must be the theology of that man, how passionless his love, how cold and inanimate the pretended warmth of his gratitude, who purposely excludes a Saviour from being the sole meritorious cause of his redemption; who receives him for a Prophet, but rejects him, as a Priest offering his own body upon the tree, a sacrifice for all. Moses would be entitled to equal praise; for he also was a prophet and a lawgiver. And has it come to this, that Moses is as much our Saviour as Christ? Is it nothing to have veiled his divinity in a servant's form? Is it nothing for him to have been "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief?" Is it nothing to have died as never man died, treading the wine-press of the wrath of God, and then enduring the col

lected weight and burden of all human guilt? Surely, Brethren, there must have been some necessity for the infliction of this unparalleled suffering, or it would never have transpired. "Surely" as Isaiah prophetically announced "he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows;" "he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."

Tell me not then of the sinner having ceased from his downward career, who overlooks these essential features of the mystery of godliness. He is only following the multitude. He may have certain virtues, such virtues as may challenge the applause of the world. But the grace required in the gospel, he has it not. Of this best furniture of the soul, he is destitute; for grace proceedeth of faith, that faith which elevates Christ to be King in Zion, the Saviour of his people, the hope and the consolation of Israel. I may love the tyrant, who spares my life; but in the estimation of others, he will be a tyrant still. The world may be much indebted to sinners, who cultivate gentle manners and evince philanthropick feelings, and there are many such; but in the estimation of that God, who exacts unfeigned faith in his Son, who demands that every moral and religious duty should be performed in the name, which is above every other name, they will be sinners still. To profit him, to make him our debtor, transcends all the labour of our hands and head. If we would be saved, we must consequently take salvation as a free gift ordained and bestowed for the worthy sake and merits of our august Redeemer.

Others again are actually journeying on the broad road owing to another kindred facility, which it affords. Contrary to the experi ence of those, who adhere to the narrow way, it admits of their reconciling the well known incongruity of serving two masters. One while, they are all for Christ. From their expressions, you would think, that his was the only liberty in which they delighted. To their eyes, he is the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valley; to their taste, sweeter than honey and the honey-comb; to their souls, the heavenly manna and the bread of life. At another, trace them throughout their intercourse with their fellow men, and their practice will soon appear to be at open variance with their professions. They can defraud a little, and prevaricate a little, and slander more. They can rival the worst lover of the world in selfish

feelings, morose passions, and sordid habits. They can do much for the souls, but nothing for the bodies of the poor. They can wear their livery untarnished on the sabbath, but in the course of the week, it is soiled, and polluted, and spotted with sin. They can pray in the presence of assembled multitudes, but they pray not, where God hath promised to behold in secret, and afterwards to reward openly. They can give good advice, but in point of example, they are not followers of Paul, as he also was a follower of Christ. And what is the consequence? In vain do they think to seek and to serve him, whom they profess to love. He is not caught by words. He is not propitiated by the melody of sounding brass or tinkling cymbal. He insists upon a residence within. His admonition is, "My son, give me thine heart;" not the moiety only, but thine whole heart; my throne must occupy its centre; my sceptre must extend over all its ramifications; else will I reject your outward sighs and tears, your most solemn appeals for mercy. Ye must enter my kingdom altogether cleansed, or the sentence of eternal exclusion shall separate us forever.

Another facility connected with the broad road to hell, and favouring the continuance of the sinner with the crowded throng of its votaries, is this, its counsels are the counsels of procrastination. Such is the language it ever holds out to its travellers, and predisposed as they naturally are to its reception, they are easily persuaded to connive at its falsehood. If they seek a fortune, they commence early. If they strive to obtain intellectual pre-eminence, it is not at the close of a long life of ignorance. But if they are called upon to seek and strive for experimental religion, although it should be the first object to engross their thoughts, it is with many, probably with far the larger proportion of nominal Christians, the very last. Not being absolutely essential to their present existence, it is easily deferred to the period of sickness and disease, of age and infirmity. But you need not be surprised, if the full-blown sinner upon a dying bed should prove incapable of making his calling and election sure. Is this a time for vigorous efforts of the understanding, for cordial exercises of the heart? Who would not flinch at the cannon's mouth? Who would not be startled unexpectedly driven to the brink of a precipice? Do you think, that the old man, with a mind attenuated as his frame, and habits rigid as his muscles, will find the evening of his life as well adapted as the morning to

conciliate the divine mercy? Who would not trim the quivering lamp on the eve of being involved in darkness? Who would not pour a little oil into its socket, if that little could convert eternal night, into eternal day? Alas, Brethren, under such circumstances, the descent into hell is more than easy, it is almost certain. If indeed our God was like unto man; if he was not beyond all comparison rich in mercy and plenteous in forgivenesses, the eleventh hour, whether produced by sickness or by age, would always prove a most fatal hour. In all such cases he would literally laugh at the calamity of the sinner, and mock when his fear cometh. And even as it is, "gracious and merciful" as he is, "slow to anger, and of great kindness," and a God that "repenteth him of the evil;" even now, it is seriously to be apprehended of the multitudes brought to this extremity, that "many be called but few chosen." They strive, but it is the strife of a drowning man. They repent, but it is the repentance of fear. They believe, but it is the belief of those, who "believe and tremble." I know that there may be exceptions. I know, that early impressions and serious thoughts, existing for a length of time, may be brought to maturity and fully ripened just as the spirit takes its everlasting flight. But to rest secure and unagitated upon this presumption indicates excessive weakness and credulity. The most, that persons in this condition can do, is to hope: While Christians of a longer life of faith and obedience are certain. They have no final apprehensions, no ultimate misgivings of the soul. As a general rule, to seek effectually is therefore to seek betimes: To strive to enter in, at the last, is to strive against time and tide, against experience, and against conviction.

I might enlarge. Having confined myself to the more reputable classes of offenders, I might advert to others; I might seize upon numerous topicks all tending to illustrate the fact of there being so many facilities on "the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death;" so many presented by the attractions, amusements, and grosser vices of this world, and all of them materially aided in their seductive properties, by the evil imaginations and sensual desires of the heart, that the innumerable throng of sinners is sadly proportioned to the width of "the wide gate," and the breadth of "the broad way." But brevity compels me to desist. Many there be, who never think of seeking or striving in another direction; or

if they do, they miserably fail, because they seek not, they strive not, in humble conformity to the will of God.

In drawing to a conclusion, the remarks to be submitted are obvious. You must, Brethren, embrace religion now, even to-day; to-morrow is to be regarded as the dream of ideots, and its promises the scorn of the wise. You do not defer to that period the reception of your temporal food. Why then, that which is spiritual? Is the body of more value than the soul, the scabbard than the sword, the vault than the gold it contains? You must embrace it with all your heart. To love in part is to hate in part. To be for Christ in one thing, and for Belial in another, shows that he reigns not Lord Paramount in your affections; that he is not, in your eyes, what he is represented to be in the scriptures, "over all, God blessed forever." You must consequently bear true allegiance to the Cross in all things, in your thoughts, in your words, and in your actions. You must embrace all its doctrines, and you must practise all its duties. Striving to believe, you must employ your reason to understand, and not to add to or to subtract from the scriptures; to invent new forms of doctrines or to explode those, which have grown old, from having stood the test of ages. "For what if some" will "not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?" Do you imagine, that it can alter the dimensions of the strait gate and the narrow way? Will they be enlarged in order to gratify the fastidiousness of an infidel? Is God so much in want of his future services, the services of him who hesitates not to deny the Lord that bought him, as to strike down the postern of heaven, and admit within its blessed mansions the spirit of distrust, and heresy, and unbelief? Not thus have 1 studied the character of God. Not thus has he revealed himself in holy oracles. "He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned."

Again, Brethren, striving to obey, you must make the performance of one duty instrumental to the performance of another and another. Not one of them is to be despised, not one of them to be rejected. The same prerogative and authority pervade all. The same Being, who wrote the first, hath written all the commandments. If you break one, there is a sense in which you break the whole. "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." Strait as is the gate, not less strait

« AnteriorContinuar »