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irrecoverably ruined! occasions in which we might have been suddenly stricken with death in a state of soul the most unfit for it that was possible? That we were none of these, that we have been preserved from these dangers' that our sin was not our destruction, that instant judgment did not overtake us, is to be attributed to the long-suffering of God. Supposing, what is undoubtedly true, that the secrets of our conduct were known to him at the time, it can be attributed to no other cause. Now this is a topic which can never fail to supply subjects of thankfulness, and of a species of thankfulness which must bear with direct force upon the regulation of our conduct. We were not destroyed when we might have been destroyed, and when we merited destruction. We have been preserved for further trial. This is, or ought to be, a touching reflection. How deeply therefore does it behove us not to trifle with the patience of God, not to abuse this enlarged space, this respited, protracted season of repentance, by plunging afresh into the same crimes, or others, or greater crimes? It shews that we are not to be wrought upon by mercy; that our gratitude is not moved: that things are wrong within us; that there is a de. plorable void and chasm in our religious principles, the love of God not being present in our hearts.
But to return to that with which we set out. Religion may spring from various principles, begin in various motives. It is not for us to narrow the promises of God which belong to sincere religion, from whatever cause it originates. But of these principles, the purest, the surest, is the love of God, forasmuch as the religion which proceeds from it is sincere, constant, and uniyersal. It will not, like fits or terror and alarm (which yet we do not despise) produce a temporary religion.
The love of God is an abiding principle. I will not , like some other (and these also good and laudable
principles of action, as far as they go,) produce a partial religion. It is co-extensive with all our obligations. Practical Christianity may be com
THE LOVE OF GOD. three words-devotion, self-government, te interesten evolence. The love of God in the heart still tree tain, from which shese three streams of
ll not fail to issue. The love of God also Bagainst error in conduct because it is a wby the ainst those evil influences which mislead at there erstanding in moral questions. In some on their hea it supplies the place of every rule. He
it truly within him, has little to learn not leisure fra adfast to the will of God, which he who i necessarily does, practise what you be es, if indeed the e well pleasing to him, leave off what you ligious, over.in - be displeasing to him; cherish, confirm, and true en n the principle itself, which sustains this men think no
external conduct, and you will not want is reasonable sons, you ned not listen to any other
MEDITATING UPON RELIGION. 5
e heart will true, that our forgetfulness and negligence
han can be excused, or can easily be accounted
me hon their heart is set upon, and thought for any
not leisure for these though they want leisure for
men think not about them enough, as they ought,
de malady and the mischief. The cast and turn
the evidence of things not seen. Some great
SERMON III. DITATING UPON RELIGION.
remembered thee inmy bed : and thought ee when I was waking ?-Psalm Ixiii.7. e of God is the soul of man as it is some:
hatically called, the Christian life, that progress of Christianity in the heart of ular person, is marked, amongst other
religion gradually gaining possession ughts. It has been said, that, if we pout religion as it deserves, we should s about any thing else ; nor with stricte 29 can we deny the truth of this proposiigious concerns do so surpass and out clue and importance all concerns beside ey occupy a place in our minds propor at importance, they would in truth ex- other but themselves. I am not there
those who wonder when I see a man with religion; the wonder with me is, ure and think so little concerning L. e allowances which must be made for ments,our activities, our anxieties about
the interests and occurrences of the present life, it is still true, that our forgetfulness and negligence and indifference about religion are much greater than can be excused, or can easily be accounted for by these causes. Few men are so busy, but that they contrive to find time for any gratification their heart is set upon, and thought for any subject in which they are interested: they want not leisure for these though they want leisure for religion. Notwithstanding therefore singular caes, if indeed there be any cases, of being over-religious, over-intent upon spiritual affairs, the real and true complaint is all on the other side, that men think not about them enough, as they ought, ) as is reasonable, as it is their duty to do. That is
the malady and the mischief. The cast and turn of our ipfirm and fleshly nature lean all on that side. For first this nature is affected chiefly by what we see; though the things which concern us most deeply be not seen; for this very reason, that they are not seen, they do not affect us as they ought. Though these things ought to be meditated upon, and must be acted upon, one way or other, long before we come actually to experience them, yet in fact we do not meditate upon them, we do not act with a view to them, till something gives us alarm, gives reason to believe that they are ap. proaching fast upon us, that they are at hand, or shortly will be, that we shall indeed experience what they are. The world of spirits, the world for which we are destined, is invisible to us. Hear St. Paul's account of this matter; “ we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."."We walk by faith, not by sight : faith is the evidence of things not seen." Some great invisible agenthere must be in the universe; the things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." Now if the great Author of all things be himself invisible to our senses, and it our relation to him must necessarily form the
ATING UPON RELIGION.
that our greatest interest and con-
things which we see. The natural sed in sense: nothing takes hold of
what applies immediately to his s disposition will not do for religion :
haracter is founded in hope as coned from experience, in perceiving vhat is not perceived by the eye; can do this, he cannot be religious; y it is a great difficulty. This pow. hich, as St. Paul observes of it, is aces the invisible world before our ifically described in Scripture, as gifts of the Spirit, the natural man without prema ed much in need of it, being alto terable. The pposite tendency. Hear St. Paul's s Roman converts; « The God of with all joy and peace in believing, abound in hope through the power ! same time. host.” Again to the Galatians, how be the state of mind of a Christian disposition the Spirit wait for the hope of right are not usually ith.” other impediment to the thought of the uncerta e faculty and the habit we have acarding its concerns as at a distance cted by nothing but what is present, usands in this respect continue chil. - lives; in a degree this weakness 11, or produces upon us the same different form, namely, in this way i Prishing, it ourselves necessarily disturbed by eaching evil, we have the means of nearness or the approach of that, nastano
MEDITATING UPON RELIGION. 4 hiek must bring with it the greatest evil or the peatest good we are capable of, our change at bath. Though we cannot exactly offer any argaments to shew that it is either certainly or protably at a distance, yet we have the means of reFarting it in our minds as though it were at a dislance; and this even in cases in which it cannot possibly be so. Do we prepare for it? no; why! because we practically regard it in our imaginations as at a distance'; we cannot prove that it is at a distance: nay, the contrary may be proved against us : but still we regard it so in our ima. ginations, and regard it so practically; for ima. gination is with most men the practical principle. But however strong and general this delusion be, las it any foundation in reason? Can that be thought at a distance which may come to-morrow, which must come in a few years? In a very few pears to most of us, in a few years to all it will be fixed and decided, whether we are to be in heaven orbell; yet we go on without thinking of it,
without preparing for it, and it is exceedingly ob.
Tay the thought from us. In the settlement of
disposition will take place, in these, I say, men
of the uncertainty when it may happen, left unpro-
prores decisively that religion possesses a small
dove those which are transitory, perishable and wayi rishing, it is not even put upon an equality with
tem: nor with those, which, in respect to time,
ad the uncertainty of time, are under the same hat currastances with itself.
for it.” 1
Eon has to
a hope as
by the er be religios • This to
erves of L
istenta which must bring with it the greatest evil or the
greatest good we are capable of, our change at
death. Though we cannot exactly offer any arthat guments to shew that it is either certainly or proChrobably at a distance, yet we have the means of ree garding it in our minds as though it were at a dis.
tance; and this even in cases in which it cannot haston possibly be so. Do we prepare for it? no; why?
because we practically regard it in our imagina
tions as at a distance: we cannot prove that it is Les holide at a distance: nay, the contrary may be proved
Je against us : but still we regard it so in our ima. Preligio ginations, and regard it so practically; for ima. ne gw gination is with most men the practical principle. reiting But however strong and general this delusion be,
has it any foundation in reason? Can that be thought at a distance which may come to-morrow,
which must come in a few years? In a very few os of BT Tears to most of us, in a few years to all it will be
nxed and decided, whether we are to be in heavScripture, ed or hell; yet we go on without thinking of it,
Furall without preparing for it, and it is exceedingly obheint sobrvable, that it is only in religion we thus put St. Paudway the thought from us. In the settlement of he Gold our worldly affairs after our deaths, which exacthelieri depend upon the same event, commence at the the powers same time, are equally distant, if either were disWasant, equally liable to uncertainty; as to when the Christin' usposition will take place, in these, I say, men of ripe not usually negligent, or think that by reason
aits distance it can be neglected, or by reason of thoughi e uncertainty when it may happen, left unpro
vided for. This is a flagrant inconsistency, and distant protes decisively that religion possesses a small
preses portion of our concern, in proportion with what tinue corought to do. For instead of giving to it that
periority which is due to immortal concerns, the same wore those which are transitory, perishable and This waste rrishing, it is not even put upon an equality with urbed tem: nor with those, which, in respect to time, TERASS the uncertainty of time, are under the same ch of the scumstances witħ itself.
he thoughid the We hare
his weaknes n us the sami dom
he means d