Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

away by the besom of destruction, that which Sodom and the other cities of the plain experienced, that of Egypt in the time of Moses or of the Canaanites by the instrumentality of Joshua l; or whether they may be classed under the same description with the Divine chastisements which Israel from time to time experienced. Do our personal afflictions resemble those of Abraham, Joseph, Job, David, Paul, and the whole palmbearing company, who have all “come out of

great tribulation, having washed their robes and “ made them white in the blood of the Lamb, and “ are therefore before the throne of God?"-or are they specimens of the same kind with those of Cain, Absalom, Ahitophel, Herod, and the thousands who have been made monuments of Divine vengeance both in this world and in the other ? . Our collect teaches us to confess, that the punishment which we endure is the just reward of our offences. When we behold the many wounded wretches who crowd all the wards of this great hospital the world, it is natural to institute an inquiry, Who inflicted these innumerable wounds under which humanity groans ? The answer of our church and of the Bible is SIN. If we contemplate the worid as a great Charnelhouse, and propose the question which Jehu asked, when he saw the two heaps composed of the heads of Ahab's sons, “ Who slew all these?" the answer of Truth is Sin.

Let us pause and take a retrospective, present, and prospective view of the world in relation to these questions. In consequence of the Divine benediction on Adam and Eve, the human race has multiplied from the first pair to successive millions. The world is supposed to contain at present 953 millions of inhabitants. What proportion its population at former periods may have borne to the present, it is not easy to determine. But every thirty years the existing generation has been succeeded by a new one, as the leaves drop off in Autumn, and give place to a fresh foliage in the ensuing spring * What innumerable multitudes must have existed ! But where are they now ? Let our church-yards answer the question in part. And let the dust under our feei, and the waters of the great deep, supply further information on the awful subject. The present state of the world is scarcely less melancholy in review than the past. For we ourselves have received the mortal stab, and are also dying. 953 millions who now survive are expiring Not an infant lives, who has not received the sentence of death in himself. Who among us is free from the danger of it the next moment? In a short time we shall all be numbered with our ancestors in the land of forgetfulness. Oh ! let the miseries of human nature be surveyed, and it will be a matter of surprise that one thoughtless, gay, and trifling inhabitant should be found on the face of the earth. Such a temper of mind ill becomes the purlieus of a hospital and a charnel-house. There are many however, who, on the proposal of an inquiry into the cause of the carnage which we survey, will satisfy themselves with saying, Such a man died of a fever, a second of a consumption, a third of old age, a fourth in the field of battle, and a fifth by

* Like leaves on trees the race of man is found,

Now green in youth, now with'ring on the ground;
Another race the following spring supplies :
They fall successive, and successive rise.
So generations in their course decay,
So fourish these, when those are past away:

Homer, b. VI.

E 2

an unexpected accident. But a contemplative mind will look further, and seek for some general murderer, to whose fury these ravages are to be attributed And that murderer is SIN. For “ By “one man sin entered into the world, and death “ by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for “ that all have sinned.” Now we think and speak with abhorrence of a murderer. Of the man who murdered three thousand eight hundred Turks in the fortress of Jaffa, who poisoned five hundred and eighty of his own soldiers, who has spread through Europe desolation and death, we think and speak with no common degree of horror and indignation. Were we to see a man who had murdered our parents, our children, the wife of our bosom, and our beloved friend who had repeatedly aimed his dagger at our own breast, and openly avowed his fixed intention of taking away our own lives, what sort of emotions should we feel towards him? This assassin is Sin.How strange does it seem that any persons should seek their safety and happiness in the society, friendship and bosom of such a fiend ! Yet how many do this! But the reader of these pages, it may be hoped, is not of this number. Let him then inquire what feelings should be excited in his soul at the perception of sin in his own heart and in the conduct of others—"what carefulness" it should produce in him—"yea, what indignation,

-yea, what fear,-yea, what vehement desire

-yea, what zeal,-yea, what revenge !” It is the law of God and man, that he “who” sheddeth man's blood, by man shall “his blood be shed; that “ the murderer shall surely be put to death,” and that no satisfaction shall be taken for his life.” Let the reader remember, that these statutes are in full force against sin—that he is the appointed

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

executioner 'of the sentence, and that, if he let the criminal « escape, his life shall be for the life " of him."

That the punishment which man endures, how great soever it may be, is justly inflicted on him, no one but an atheist can confidently deny. For no other

person will ascribe it to chance. And if God be its author, it must correspond with the most perfect equity of which His will is the rule. Man may err. A court of human judicature may be unjust in its decisions, through mistakes, partiality, or unrighteous principles. But “ there is no unrighteousness in God.” Though “ clouds and darkness are round about Him, right“ eousness and judgment are the habitation of “ His throne.” Modern Rationalists, indeed, exalt themselves into a tribunal of justice, and undertake to decide on right and wrong, acquitting or condemning according to their own notions of equity. The dogma of St. Paul, that “ the wages of sin is" eternal “ death,” is inconsistent with their view of vindicative retribution, and hence they infer its falsehood. But their conduct resembles that of a company of felons, who, while awaiting their trial, set up a mockcourt of judicature in the jail, and anticipate the sentence of the law by determining what it ought and what it ought not to do in their respective

Self-interest, of course, guides the proceedings of this counterfeit judicial process; to which the judge, when the criminals are brought before him, will pay no attention.

Thus, a priori, we may infer the justice of that punishment which we endure, whatever it be. And when the sentence of the law is finally executed on the impenitent, and they are cast into bell, every mouth will be stopped, because all

ES

cases.

the world is guilty before God. But though this conclusion is irrefragable, no real humiliation will be produced in our bosoms, till we painfully discover within ourselves that which justifies God in his dealings with us, both in what He has already inflicted, and also in what He has threatened to inflict on the transgressors of His law. That “we

are justly punished for our offences,” is a confession which can only flow from a broken and contrite heart. Our original sin in Adam, our natural corruption derived from him, and our actual transgressions, must be exhibited and explained to our minds by the teaching of the Holy Ghost, before we can cordially and honestly make this avowal. When this indeed is done, all or either of these considerations will sufficiently account for the punishment we suffer, and willconstrain us, instead of murmuring at it, to wonder. at the patience and mercyof God as therein manifested, Then the language of antient penitents will be ours also. Then shall we adopt in sincerity the confession of Jeremiah, “ The Lord is

righteous; for I have rebelled against His com so mandments.” 6. It is of the Lord's mercies " that we are not consumed, because His compas- sions fail not." "Shall a sinful man complain

a man for the punishment of his sins ?” Then shall we take up the humiliating avowal of Daniel in the name of the antient church, which our own has in part appropriated to our use by inserting it among the sentences with which her service opens: “O Lord, righteousness belongeth “ unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as “ at this day – To the Lord our God belongeth “ mercies and forgivenesses,” though we have rebelled against Him. Neither have we obeyed the “ voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His law

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »