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reminded of his bacchanalian exploits! How often does remorse torment him, and his conscience fill him with self-reproach, when he reaps the pain which his excess secures in his own body, or the misery which it inflicts on his wife, and parents, or children, whom he has disgraced and degraded by his crimes! His stomach, gorged and sickened by excess, does not more loathe its food, than does he loathe himself. Unhappiness attends him at every step. His friends desert him his children despise him—his neighbours refuse to trust him—his property slips from his grasp his debts accumulate and molest him—and the further he pursues his soul-destroying appetite, the more does he sink degraded in his own estimation. What is all this but the voice of God, proclaiming to him, that he cannot thus violate his laws with impunity ?
In like manner, the gambler and seducer, the avaricious and fraudulent, the proud and revengeful, the lustful and unclean, have all their inward woes, at times, when the keen and cutting reproaches of conscience overwhelm them. These are the proofs which God is giving, that his law must be honored, and that he will not compromit its claims. All the misery in the world is the result of its violation. Some wise and gracious design must be had, by a Being infinite in his benevolence, in thus filling the earth with wretchedness. He delighteth not in unhappiness. “ He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." He would rather it were otherwise, but it is all intended to show the value he puts upon his law, and how unalterable he will adhere to all its provisions. Thus do the sorrows and woes of men speak to the Christian's faith, and proclaim the Almighty's determination to visit the sinner's iniquity upon him.
The sceptic will probably say, that the disease and wretchedness of the youthful sensualist, result from his violation of those physical laws, which God has ordained for the preservation of the health of the human body; and are to be assigned to natural, and not to moral causes. But the economy of nature, as it has been shown, is subordinate to the moral government of God. He ordained the laws of man's physical constitution, and those which regulate his susceptibility of excitement. And these laws were all intended to promote the great purposes of morality. The natural and uniform result, in due season, of suffering and wretchedness from immoral causes, only shows the wisdom and immutability of God's moral constitution, and how subservient natural causes are made to its great interests. Impenitent men have proof enough of God's respect for his law, in their sorrow and anguish, in the keenness of their self-reproach, and the discontented, fretful state of their minds consequent on their sins. They who live in the habitual violation of the law of God, pursue the very course to subvert the natural economy designed of God, and calculated to promote human happiness; and are, themselves, the authors of their own misery and ruin. Their painful convictions, and secret fears, and torturing reproaches of conscience, and restless inquietude, and dissatisfaction with every thing around them, are but the voice of God, assuring them, that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than one tittle of the law to fail.
MENTAL DIGESTION. To digest signifies to separate the several parts of a compound into distinct receptacles. To digest our food is to separate the nutritious elements from the useless parts, to throw off the latter and to transform the former into the body, as new supplies are required to maintain its identity. Three things are needed to do this—suitable food, a regular appetite, and the power of digestion as first defined. A defect in these occasions weakness -an excess in them produces obesity and worse disorders.
It is just, in like manner, that knowledge by the appetite of reading and the influence of reflection become to the mind the cause of healthful vigour or of bloated disease. Distinction, which is but another word for digestion, is necessary for concocting our ideas, and then, for the regular classing of them, in order to their being brought out by the faculty of memory without confusion and without haste. A strong and a regular appetite for knowledge, with the power of a good digestion, produce correct judgment and pure emotions. These form the man of wisdom and virtue ; that is to say, the real health of the human soul.
There is an atrophy of mind produced by an imperfect state of what we would again call its digestive capacity, or the power of classifying its thoughts. I knew a man who read every word
of the Encyclopædia Britannica, but he was not distinguished as a scholar of great mental ability or refinement. The powers of digestion were loaded and oppressed with such masses and mixtures of mental food, that his mind swelled into tumidity rather than grew in vigour. I mean only to say, that continual reading is to the mind what over-eating is to the body. No glutton can be long of a comely or wholesome constitution; no mere reader or plodder in books was ever remarkable for good sense ; such a man can neither think, nor speak, nor write well ; and of the two evils, I know not whether it be not almost as well for the mind to be without knowledge, as to retain its ideas in huddled assemblages which produce nothing but whims and wild imaginations.
If our youth would rise to true greatness of mind, they must have books full of pure intelligence, an eagerness to read, and power to reflect. There must be wholesome food, a good appetite, and a vigorous digestion. “ The book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, for then shalt thou make thy way prosperous, and thou shalt find good success.”
THE DURATION OF CHRIST'S KINGDOM. “Ah!" said a great captain, when elated by the splendours and acclamations of a triumph which Rome had awarded to him—"Ah! that it would continue !" But it did not continue. It passed away as the pageant of an hour. It is the reproach of all earthly bliss that it cannot continue. Man dies—thrones moulder-nations perish. Yea, this earth, and these heavens, and the stars and sun which glorify them, shall fade and perish like a garment.
There is but one thing with which we are conversant that is an exception, and this is religion. “ The word of the Lord,” and of our salvation, “endureth for ever.” It shall live when all else expires. It shall not only survive the ruins of the world and nature; then shall be the period in which it shall culminate in perfect glory. Religion is not of earth, but from heaven. It is here as a visitant from eternity, winning the children of men to the immortality to which it leads. Here it is effecting a
work of mercy amidst obscurations and uncongenial influences ; it is reserving and accumulating its glories for the great day of revelation. Earth is all too narrow, the world is all too gross, and time is all too brief, for their matured and perfect manifestation; they demand an infinite field and an eternal day. This earth on which we dwell, these heavens by which we are surrounded, having answered their purpose, are to be dissolved as unworthy of the opening occasion ; and there are to be “a new earth and new heavens," which shall endure for ever. This is the home of religion. Here she is to dwell, displaying all her excellence, and dispensing all her favours. Time, change, and death for ever excluded; her subjects eternal, herself eternal; her dwelling, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. An eternity of bliss is bliss; an eternity of glory is excelling glory!
If an effort were made to bring together these several attributes of glory in one conception, we should have improved apprehension of a subject which by its own grandeur is incomprehensible. Religion visited our world with the purpose of recovering man from misery, guilt, and thraldom. Hell opposed this act of grace; and heaven succoured it. The eyes of the universe were thus turned to our earth, and archangels have contended on this field for the life of man. For a thousand ages the conflict was sustained with fluctuating success; till at length the crisis came, and in one final contest religion prevailed, and rose in triumph over all her foes.
Ah! the glories of that day! A day in which man is presented in the restored and perfected likeness of his Redeemera day in which the life and bliss which were individual, are multiplied in myriads of millions of the human family, and all assembled in one common presence—a day in which Satan, with his hosts, is adjudged, cast down, and tormented—a day in which nature and providence, with all their wonders, shall give place to the higher scheme of redemption, to which they have been the platform and auxiliary—a day in which the Divine perfections shall be revealed in such power as shall shed renewed effulgence through the universe, and fill angels and men with deeper love, and more profound worship-a day in which the whole mind of God and of Christ shall be perfected; and the peace of heaven, the torment of hell, proclaimed to be eternal. Then pain, crime, and death shall die : and then shall begin the life of men, the rest of God, the jubilee of the universe. Oh! the glory of that day—the day for which all other days were made!
These stupendous events are to be realized, and realized quickly. We are already walking in the shadows which they have cast before them. The whole framework of nations is heaving with final change. The hand of Providence is silently removing obstacles, and preparing a way and a highway for the ransomed of the Lord; and the finger of prophecy is indicating the night to be far spent, and the day to be at hand. The man of sin” is rousing himself for the last conflict;
and the spirit of all evil is putting on portentous and aggravated forms. The church is awaking to great expectation, and going forth to meet her Lord; the world is looking out with fear and wonder at what is to happen, not knowing whether it shall be for vengeance or salvation ; and there is a voice in the conscience of all men, which, from time to time, is solemnly saying, “Behold I come quickly!"
My brethren, are these occurrences approaching? Is "the riches of the glory of the mystery,” which was hidden from the foundation of the world, about to be revealed now in the consummation of all things ? As surely as that they are to happen, shall we bear a part in them? Must our eyes look on the glory and the terrors of that great day? What then is comparable in moment to the question, How will it affect us ? Shall we see it with joy, or with grief? Will it be to us the day of confusion, or the day of redemption ?
These questions may be met by another, more practical and more readily resolved, How does it affect us now ? Is it an object of desire, or of dread? Are we thirsting for the coming of the kingdom of God and of heaven ? Are we uniformly proving the sincerity and power of our desires, by labouring to this glorious issue? Little evidence can we have, that we are rightly affected towards this kingdom, except as it found in devoted and paramount concern for its advancement. And, supposing that you could be partaker of its honours, though you had not laboured for its establishment, what joy could be yours?
A general, who was committed to a fearful battle with an enemy of superior numbers, sent a despatch to a subordinate