« PreviousContinue »
on, will, one or other of them, easily shew why so many Christians are almost entirely indifferent to these awful consequences of our being placed on earth! Ho 201
But how is it that those who have been
brought fully to believe the Gospel, and who oftentimes strive to obey its precepts, and always grieve at their manifold failings and im perfect obedience thereto, how is it that such as these should still wander in daily conduct from the Christian graces, spiritual desires, the holy charities of life; the only real proof of a cordial acceptance, and a hearty belief of the covenanted mercies of Jesus Christ! Surely it must be, that they make this world too much of a home, and suffer the little things of time to fret and gall their spirit, and so to break the power of religion upon their souls, as to damp and well nigh extinguish the flame of a holy charity, love towards God and man.:
If such persons would in earnest consider man as a stranger, and life a short pilgrimage, and so, in the full efficacy of promised spiritual strength from God, apply a truth so awful, but so wholesome withal, surely the evil would meet its remedy. A faithful and frequent recollection of the truth before us that we are strangers and pilgrims; and preparation for a home where no stranger shall be
found; and real seeking for that country where the pilgrimage of a probationary state shall be at an end, would indeed be going to the very root of all human spiritual illit would give strength to strengh first given and so added to from above; it would give that inward joy, and cure those many sorrows, and cause increase to that real charity, and better valuing of heavenly promises in Christ, which all worldly expedients, and the maxims of human prudence, and mere resolutions of a better obedience are never known to afford.
Let each of us then, in faithful reckoning with our own conscience, look to ourselves, under all the awful consequences of this short, this rapid state of our existence.
What present good accompanies us, let us enjoy with thankfulness, use with scrupulous moderation, and distribute with real and fervent charity.
What of present ill qualifies and chastens the happier scenes of life, let us also use with gratitude; for, under the holy influence of Him who sends or permits the sorrows of time, they may be made blessed instruments in advancing us with profitable spiritual discipline, to the infinite joys of eternity. Whether prosperous or adverse in respect to worldly comfort, the journey will soon be over, and then cometh the only really important ques
tion-How we shall have lived in respect of Christian faith and holiness of life.
How we shall have prepared for the account to be given at the last, will then be to the expe rience of all, what all acknowledge to be now, the only great concern; and whether we shall have lived in Christ, and died in Christ, will then be the only eventful issue of our earthly pilgrimage. Let this be considered while life shall last. To Christ our present Saviour, our future Judge, let us go, firm in faith, fervent in prayer, holy in obedience. Let us depend solely upon His redemption; remember and keep His covenant; rest (with the exertion of all our powers,) upon the strength of His Holy Spirit, and be comforted and encouraged by the gracious promises of the everlasting Father of us all. Then, whether this be the last year of our pilgrimage or not, we shall be found watching. Neither the joys nor the sorrows of our journey will find us unprepared for the spiritual good which each can afford; having lived "as strangers and pilgrims" upon earth, our true rest and home will be found in Heaven. Then will be made manifest in all the redeemed, the exact and faithful fulfilment of the Christian's hope, encouraging him in this world and realized to him in the next: "I am persuaded, that neither
death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,' nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."*
ON THE DUTY OF FASTING.
A SERMON FOR LENT.
ISAIAH, CHAPTER 58, VERSE 5.
Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?"
THIS question, in the mouth of the prophet, put by God Almighty Himself to his people, involves a difficulty, not belonging to the question itself, but consequent to those errors of judgment, which positive sin, or a deviation from the simplicity of the Gospel, has brought upon us. Under this difficulty many have laboured, and many still labour. Upon the duty inferred from the text many doubt, and many fear; and many feel themselves at liberty to cast away all doubt and all fear upon the subject. But whether this be upon good scriptural ground; or upon rash presumption; or upon indifference towards the ends or obligation of an enjoined duty, their own conscience must be the judge.