« PreviousContinue »
HEAVEN'S CURE FOR THE PLAGUES OF SIN.-NO. IP.
Romans xiii. 8.
I HAVE sometimes thought with myself, what must be the sensations of the heathen, on observing the conduct of this world's population. They have no Bible to tell them the story of the apostacy, or to teach them the way of recovery. They see about them beings wholly depraved, exerting themselves to deceive, betray, and ruin each other. And they know not of any other life where the wrongs of the present can be rectified. The grave is to them an eternal sleep. And whether there be any God, to witness the events that pass, must de mand a doubt. How deplorable, to beings thus benighted, must be the condition of the human family; and how often must they give utterance to the wish, that they had died the first hour they came into life.
Even with the Bible in our hands, and all these mysteries explained, we sometimes wonder that God would build a world and then suffer it to become so ruined: And still we can have no fear but that it will appear at last that God has done all things well. It is not his purpose that this world shall always exhibit the same gloomy and forbidding view as at present. During the period of millennial glory there will be, if not a universal holiness, at least such a prevalence of piety as will give this world a regenerated aspect. To this day God's people have looked by faith these many thousand years: But is it not to be feared that we have considered it too remote, and have exerted too little agency in hastening its coming? We have believed and prayed, and have considered this the whole of our duty, while it should be our care to cultivate a little spot in the wastes of sin, and as soon as possible remove from that spot the whole of the curse. Let there prevail the benevolence enjoined in the text, and the face of the moral world will immediately be changed. Let the contest be which will do the most to render others happy, and the millennial year has
I attempted in a previous discourse to explain the nature of benevolence, to show how it will operate, and urge the duty. I observed that we are obligated to feel kindly to all men by the example of God, by his command, and by the happiness which the exercise affords to its possessors. I notice,
IV. The happiness it communicates to others. I am aware that there must be in the heart, a wish to communicate joy to others; in other words, there must be some portion of the very benevolence recommended, in order that the motive now presented should operate, But this is true of all motives, except such as address themselves to the selfish feelings. The man who is wholly unsanctified will not regard the example or the authority of God. But we always address the motives of the gospel to affections that do not exist till God produces them, and still we hope that God will give the word success. I would then urge all the believers and the unbelievers to love their fellow-men, from the fact that by putting forth this affection you can create a world of happiness.
In the first place, look about you and see what need there is of more happiness than at present exists, what, abundant opportunity there is for your exertion. You
cannot be ignorant that you live in a ruined world, where, if you are disposed to be kind, you can find abundant employment. You can find misery in almost every shape and shade. You meet with the poor, the ignorant, and the vicious. Some have no bread, some no Bible, and others, I had almost said no Sabbath, no gospel, and no conscience. There are some who pay no regard to divine institutions, and seldom or never visit the sanctuary. There are feuds and contentions and alienations and enmity. There are families where there is no domestic happiness, where there are neither smiles nor songs, nor pleasant words, nor kind affections. The husband and the wife, whom God has constituted one flesh, live in a state of utter alienation. The children are rude and ignorant, and the parents perhaps intemperate and harsh, and profane and false.
And you can find families who are at war with each other, who are stationed side by side, but through all the year have no interchange of kind offices. There, too, are the rich who have become poor, the respectable who have lost their character, the decent who have become intemperate, the civil who have become profane, and the pure who have become lewd. You can easily meet with the captious, the rude, the passionate, the deceitful, the false, the idle, the covetous, the extortionate, the insubordinate, and the quarrelsome. Ask one man his opinion of his neighbours, and he will bring a charge against some of them, ask, another and he will accuse the first, and a third the second, and a fourth the third, and finally, if you believe nothing, you will say with David, that all men are liars, and if you believe it all, you will fancy yourself associated with a community of convicts. How common are contentions, quarrels, lawsuits, and disappointments, and vexations. How few men will
you find who know of none of whom they wish to speak unkindly, none who have wronged them, none who defame them, none who hate them, none who
But I presume enougla has been said to remind you that you live in a world where there is need enough of your benevolence. Nor will you presume that this picture is darker than the truth. The fact is, it would fill a volume to tell the whole. I have only glanced at the subject with a view to show you a little section of the field which your benevolence should cultivate. Would it not be desirable to apply a remedy if you might to this complicated malady. Be willing, then, to practice the benevolence required, and the remedy is applied and the cure effected. I cannot fix my eye upon any item in this catalogue of miseries, but I instinctively recur to the men who could reach a cure to the very case. If I think of the suffering poor, there are those at hand who have all the wealth necessary for their relief. Nor is there any quarrel, but there are those who could still it ; or litigation, but there are those who could stop it; or mistake, but there are those who could rectify it; or injury, but there are those who could repair it.' The profane man has some who countenance, and, if they were disposed, could silence him; the intemperate have such about them who aid and encourage them, and there are those who, exerting their influence could reform them. Let us look at this case a moment. Once suppose that every mind, but that of the drunkard himself, was suitably impressed with the danger and the misery of his course, and that no one would put the cup in his hand any sooner than he would present him the knife
with which he intended to slay himself, tell me if it is at all probable that he would ever be again intoxicated ? No, when decent men shall know their duty and do it, when they shall watch the drunkard as they would the man who was meditating suicide, and stand between the one and the cup, as they would between the other and the knife, and risk their very limbs to save him, this dreadful avenue of death is closed, and there is not a single drunkard to curse society. And there would thus disappear in an hour, at least half the plagues that prey upon this world's guilty and infatuated population. And the benevolence which the text enjoins, let it once prevail, would accomplish this with promptness and with ease. The idle, are all within the reach of an influence that could render them industrious ; the Sabbath-breaker, of an influence that could bring him to the sanctuary; the covetous, of an influence that could render them generous; the indecent, of an influence that could civilize them; and the captious, and refractory, of an influence that could render them manageable and civil. If you doubt this bring to yourself the case, and survey the circumstances. First name the evil, then the two, or the four, or the ten, as it may be, who support it. Let these become good men, and the plague is cured. I know that if we were all holy we should be but men, and should be subject to many weaknesses, mistakes, and dangers. But cure once the miseries that sin produces, and God would remove the residue. Let him see from his holy throne the population of one town, bending every effort to cure its own calamities, and he would act as he never yet has, if he did not render the effort successful.
And does not the motive now presented, wear an enchanting aspect. I am urging you, my dear friends, to