Imágenes de páginas

whom he has believed, and assured that he will

preserve all that is committed to him to the day of eternity.

The life of the soul arises from spiritual knowledge. Thus our blessed Saviour informs us, “ This is life eternal that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” True knowledge, like the sun in our system, both enlightens, and vivifies at the same time. By it the soul is instructed in what is useful, and in what is pernicious; which are the ways of error, and those of truth; of what honours and what offends its God; of what ought, or ought not to be done; what weakens, or what invigorates its powers; and by this means, the things that would injure and destroy the soul are avoided; the methods by which the Spirit of God comes by his grace into the believer, discovered; and a true taste and relish for truth, and spiritual delights, preserved from day to day. It was the rejection of this knowledge which was the cause of the shameless and abominable practices of the heathen world, mentioned by St. Paul in the first chapter of his epistle to the Romans: “As they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them up to a reprobate mind, &c.;" and the corruptions which followed were awful indeed; and, knowing that a conduct the reverse of this tended directly to life and happiness, he fervently prayed for the churches, that they “might be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that they might walk worthy of the Lord. Thus the soul immerges out of the abyss of error, ignorance, and sin, till God makes known this glorious mystery, which is Christ in us the hope of glory; and by this pure light of heaven, it is conducted through the several stages of spiritual life, till the hope of glory issues in the complete and eternal fruition of glory itself. This spiritual knowledge also teaches us

More cheerfully to submit to the various dispensations of Divine procidence. It is observed of Job after his severe conflict had commenced, by the loss of his property, servants, and children, that he “ sinned not, nor charged God

foolishly.” And why was it that this pious man attributed no folly to his Maker? It was because he knew him to be wise and gracious, and doing nothing without design; and the event verified it fully. Had he not been well instructed in Divine knowledge, what could have been expected but murmurings and complainings in such circumstances ? And it will ever be found that the most superficially instructed will be the readiest to complain of the inequality of his righteous proceedings, when they favour not their views and appear calculated to overthrow their designs, and demolish their Babels; while he that is a better proficient in the school of Christ will patiently bear his load; submit to the unerring counsels of heaven; acknowledge that the Lord has a right to dispose of him as he pleases; that he has not dealt with him after his sins, nor rewarded him according to his iniquities; will seek out the causes of his trials and humble himself; will wait quietly for the salvation of his God; and not hasten to free himself from any of his troubles by any unlawful method whatever. Who then can tell the value of that wisdom which thus sets the heart at rest, ealns its fears, revives its hopes, and gives it assurance that all is working together for its present and eternal happiness? Who can, be sufficiently thankful for such a gift, which inspires the soul with boldness and fortitude amidst all the storms of life; and which enables it to pierce the thickest gloominess of its darkest days, and discover through all the designs of God in, conducting them the best and surest way to the realms of un created light, and everlasting joy and tranquillity?, All, all these amictions are but the chastisements of our heavenly Father, and are intended not to destroy or distress, but to correct and amend, and render us perfect and complete in all his ways, that we, being his dutiful children in the present state, may be the more gloriously rewarded in that which is to come. It is, therefore, since it produces such excellent effects, to be highly esteemed by us, and, as coming from God, to be prized above all other knowledge whatever.

By it we shall be assisted to imitate him in a more perfect

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

marmer.-" Be ye followers, or imitators of God, as dear children,” is an apostolic injunction. We are then called upon to be imitators of the imitable perfections of God; and since he is the most perfect of all beings, the man that most nearly resembles him, and most closely imitates him, comes, of all his fellows, nearest perfection. Oá this account the knowledge of himself is truly valuable; for as he that would imitate any work of nature or art is more likely to succeed by a good than by a bad light, so he that would copy this blessed original will do it best who enjoys the greatest share of heavenly wisdoin. Who but he that understands something of his nature can imitate him' in his compassions, long-suffering, benevolence, and other moral perfections ? Who but he will feel any real desire or inclination after it? None therefore have cause to boast of health, strength, worldly-wisdom, prudence, and prosperity, which are of uncertain continuance; but rather in our glorying we should confine ourselves to this, that we know and understand the Lord, who delighteth in the exercise of loving-kindness and tender mercy in the earth.

It will teach us to form a proper estinale of things.-One of the chief causes why men are so inordinately attached to this present state, is setting too high a value upon the things which promise them sensual gratifications, the indulgence of some predominant passion, or that charm their vain and roving imagination. The attainment of their wishes in these respects is not withont much care, expense, and labour; and, supposing they meet not with bitter disappointments in the pursuit, how short-lived is their happiness! And though it by no means answers their expectation ; yet, their minds being occupied by no worthier object, or hoping to meet one time with what escaped them at another; or that variation will do that for them which sameness is not caleulated to pro. duce, or some such like deception ; they continue the same vain or criminal course, till sickness, age, or death compels them to desist, leaving this painful reflectio , that they have sown the virid, and must reap the whirlwind. Now such

as are illuminated by the Spirit of truth and wisdom, discover the evil of sin, its accursed nature and fatal consequences; and knowing that its wages are death, they forsake it altogether. They see into the vanity of the creatures, and know that they can do nothing for us but so far as God gives his blessing with them, and that they are, therefore, not to be trusted in or idolized. They see that it is not indulging the senses, or pursuing the pleasures of the imagination; but the enjoyment of the Divine favour, the pardon of sin, peace of conscience, the in-dwelling of the Spirit, and the spiritual delights springing from his holy way and pleasant service. These, when known, will be preferred, and these are not like the withering pleasures so eagerly sought by the carnal. ly minded; they constantly bloom, and death itself can only transplant them to bloom more fully and gloriously in the Paradise above. Such as are thus blessed have continual cause to praise and magnify the God of love for these great and precious benefits.

[ocr errors]



Our relation to God-his nature-government-promises

threatenings-certainty of death.

We come now to speak of that important transaction of the soul with its God, on which its present and everlasting happiness depends ; and I shall begin by observing, that this must be considered as arising from


God is superior to us in all things, and it is our duty to be and do all that he requires at our hands. No father or master has an equal right to be obeyed like him, yet fathers and masters

expect to be obeyed; and they do this from the relation in which their children or servants stand to them; and thus it is with the great God, and he reasons with us on the same ground; “If I be a father, where is mine honour : and if I be a master, where is my fear?” And he certainly calls upon all who have not done it, to cast away all their transgressions, whereby they have transgressed; and to make them a . new heart and a new spirit. It is therefore necessary, on the ground of the Divine command, that all should turn to him with their whole heart, without which they act a most ungrateful, wicked, and dangerous part : ungrateful, because they offend him from whom they derive their all ; wicked, as opposers of all that is wise and good; and dangerous, as it exposes their souls to eternal death. Oh! if men did but re- : flect seriously upon this, they would be constrained to forsake, their evil ways, and seek reconciliation with him, as their only helper and unchangeable friend : but sin has sunk so, deep, and spread so wide in our nature, that it is exceedingly difficult to persuade us of these matters; and thus our opposition is of long continuance, if not eternal. Reflect for a moment, “ Is he not thy Father that hath bought thee ?, Hath he not made thee, and established thee?” Why then, should you strive to forget him ; why refuse to obey him? If we refuse to acknowledge his authority, we shall be vassals to sin and Satan; and what is this slavery but that of unruly passions, insatiable and criminal desires, vain hopes and empty appearances, intermixed with sorrow, vexation, and guilty fears ? Oh, how much better it is to be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live a life of virtue, piety, and peace! Now, without true conversion, this cannot be done; therefore, we ought to renounce every evil way,

that we may approve ourselves unto God as bis faithful servants, and as his dutiful and affectionate children.


Our knowledge of God is greatly confined, since we can know nothing of him except from the revelations he is pleas

« AnteriorContinuar »