« 前へ次へ »
the hopes and sentiments of a reconciled state?
But to argue on this subject, as if it were questionable, were almost profane; for is it not to offer an indignity to the blessed and only Potentate-is it not to impeach his goodness, and unworthily to disparage the glory of his name, to imagine for a moment that the slaves of sin, and the servants of Satan, are gainers, in point of happiness, by their adherence to their ungodly cause ? The matter can only appear doubtful to those who can think of no joy but sensual joy, and who want all congeniality for the joy which is spiritual and from God; and to be in such a case is hapless beyond description.
Here is a religious man sitting under his vine, or under his fig-tree, viewing the prosperity which God has given him, in the returns of husbandry or of commerce, Yonder a worldly man is similarly situated. The breast of the one swells with high devotion in surveying the scene around him ; the love of God glows in his heart—the hope of heaven beams in his elevated eye. While his herds feed around him, or the winds waft home in safety the fruits of his successful adventures, he is conscious
of something within him, which chastens and exalts the satisfaction that naturally, flows from issues. of prosperous life. The worldling has no sentiments but such as are connected with things present. In the gains and glories of time, he sees his portion; nor rise his sentiments above it. In this case, who does not see, that to the possession of present good, piety super-adds its peculiar joys. And therefore, in their common prosperity, the religious and the irreligious man are very unequal in point of true, heart-felt, and reasonable enjoyment. Both have the pleasures of taste, and the gladness of prosperity ; but what an exquisite relish is added to this taste, and to that gladness, by the exalted sentiments of devotion.
Next view them in privation. Some sad reverse occurs, and both are left in poverty and destitution. The shock is, perhaps, too great for worldly fortitude to stand; and if not overwhelmed in despair, yet happiness is confessedly gone. The believer, however, from his Rock of salvation, sees flocks, and herds, and possessions laid waste,, and turns him to rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the hope of a more enduring sub-... stance. Contrast them, then, in privation, and shall any one be at a loss to determine
whose spirit is the noblest, and whose sentiments are the most connected with joy, and who is the most secure against the reverses of time? "
Time, however, hastens away. In a little while the scene changes from time to eternity. And if the worldly man still contend that he has his good things here, and the believer his evil things, let us look after both into eternity. Ah! the one is seen tormented, and the other comforted; the comfort, too, endless, and the torment endless! Consider this, and then say, if godliness is not great gain, and a life of sin an infinite loss? In true religion, God our Saviour is found. Go and reckon up all that may be found elsewhere, and on the principles of truth, tell its amount, ye who look only at the things which are seen and temporal.
THE CONSIDERATION OF UNREGARDED PRAYER.
LAM. III. 8. “ Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my
prayer." WERE we, in this life, capable of taking a comprehensive view of all that is doing un. der the sun, it would be an interesting, but, to a benevolent mind, a most afflicting exercise, to mark how men act with respect to the single point of prayer to the Omnipresent Creator. On Him, the intelligent universe every instant depends for continuance in being, and for blessings to fill up their capacities of enjoyment. But, besides the general dependence, which is common to us, with the thrones and principalities in heavenly places, there is an affecting peculiarity in the dependence of man, whose condition calls for something more than a sincere and constant recognition of his creature-state before his eternal Maker. He
hath fallen into sin and misery-he hath transgressed the divine law-lies under its fearful condemnation—and has only a very limited and uncertain space allowed him to give proof of his penitence, and sue for forgiveness.
In the mean time, the King Immortal reveals himself on a throne of grace, dispensing mercy, remitting sin, and saving to the uttermost all who come unto him by Jesus Christ, the divine mediator. None are forbidden application; and to persuade many to come, a proclamation has gone forth through all the earth, to assure sinners of the divine placability and reconciliation to tell them that God is the hearer of prayer, and is even waiting to be gracious. The best blessings are promised; the highest favours are proposed ; and hardly is there any limitation set to the extent of the divine liberality in the way of answering genuine prayer. For though some have asked much, and obtained wonderful returns of prayer, no man, we suppose, hath ever had faith to ask all that the riches of the divine glory would have bestowed on believing and continued supplication.
With such calls and encouragement to prayer, it is afflicting to observe the absolute