« 前へ次へ »
himself, as is stated in his word, proposed in the existence of intelligent beings. To have formed them for any other end superior to this, or more excellent, was impossible. Any thing besides this, would have wanted magnitude and excellence sufficient to engage, interest, and bless them in the pursuit of it, through ages of immortality. If any other end than God, had been prescribed, the creatures would have been infinitely disappointed in the issue; for nothing but God is ample enough to fill the vast desires of a rational nature. And if the creatures were made for this great end, it may be laid down as demonstrably true, that they will be happy or miserable, according to their choice or rejection of that end in the actings of their conscious existence. No doubt, the condition of all intelligent beings at this moment in the universe, bears witness to the fact we have stated ; nor can it be otherwise, when we reflect what an indignity the creature offers to God by disregarding his glory, and that such a spirit not only acts unworthily by the neglect, but puts itself in an attitude of opposition to the sovereignty and the law of the Creator.
That God requires of all his creatures to glorify him, is unquestionable; nor hath he
any unfurnished with adequate motives. To an intelligent, upright nature, that is capable of discerning things that differ, and free to prefer the more excellent, the very suitableness and glory of the end would seem inducement enough to pursue it, independently of other considerations. The free and perfect spirits of heaven, no doubt, perceive such a suitableness and excellence in glorifying God, as would constrain their devotedness, without accessory inducements.
Yet no creature is left without accessory motives, arising out of manifested goodness in the bestowment of manifold and unmerited gifts. Who of God's creatures, in heaven or on earth, have not already received benefits morally fitted to produce in them affections of wonder and gratitude—to inspire and cherish a sense of obligation that shall derive its energy from past favours, in a great measure irrespective of future good -a sense of obligation that will prompt every man who feels it, to glorify the Divine Benefactor with zeal and complacency? Into the motives of angels, we need not intrude. But we have man before us, to study his moral constitution, and weigh the inducements which he has to religious duty. And when we give utterance to the holy
requirement, “ Glorify God," vast and extensive as we know the duty to be, we are able to propose a motive for it of sufficient force and magnitude, and of a nature so constraining, that no heart can resist it, but an evil heart of unbelief.
When it is said, Gorify God,” to enforce the call, we do not, in the first place, dwell on the happy consequences that would result from compliance,—though consequences are of exceeding weight in the consideration of futurity; neither do we take our stand exclusively on the abstract ground of fitness, though, surely, the infinite and excellent attributes of Jehovah do justly claim all obedience and devotion; we rather tell of what God hath done for man, that, by awakening in every breast not obdurate, a sense of obligation, all may be constrained, on a principle of grateful affection, to glorify God. In fine, we rest the matter on this Gospel statement, “ Ye are bought with a price.” What a field of interesting truth is here laid open to our contemplation!
We were indeed sold under sin, and this world had become like a vast house of bondage, in which the servants of sin labour from infancy to age, without profit to their
souls, and for no wages but the wages of sin, which is death. • He that doeth sin is the servant of sin." “ Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness.” Obedience unto righteousness, however, no man hath rendered : all were the servants of sin; and nothing more miserable than their condition could be seen on earth. We have heard
many a piteous recital of the evils of slavery, and have read, with all our indignant feelings excited, the narrative of human cruelty exercised on fellow-men, who, defrauded of that liberty which is dear to all, have been compelled to wear out periods of unrequited toils, in bitterness and scorn, with no prospect of deliverance, till death came for their release. Their state is evil; but it affords only a faint emblem of the greater misery of the slaves of sin, who are all the day of life subject to the power of Satan, without a single hour of exemption from his soul-destroying thraldom. Man was created free, though not independent. He had the liberty of moral choice, and might either continue to love, worship, and obey the blessed and only Potentate, whose service is perfect
freedom; or he might subject himself to the power of evil, by some bold act of opposition to his Maker's will. We know, that Satan, through subtilty, beguiled the parents of the human race to make choice of evil; and thus reduced them, in soul and body, under the bondage of corruption. They had made a choice, and must abide by it. And as all that are born in a house of bondage, are born slaves, so are the successive generations of mankind, by the condition of a fallen nature, enthralled to Satan; and from their earliest years do they serve him willingly, and yet in wretchedness; for he gives no peace to the souls of his servants; nay, they are manifestly the children of wrath, and oft-times so galled and wounded in spirit, that they are seen groaning and travelling in pain together until death; and now and then, some or other of them, driven to desperation by the intolerable exactions of sin and Satan, plunge, at a venture, into the dread abyss of an unknown eternity.
Other captives, who are so only by external condition, have always this final consolation to persuade them to patience, that death will break their fetters; and, in this prospect, they bear the burden and the heat