« AnteriorContinuar »
hastened his exit, he sought to forget how destitute he was of any real happiness, or well grounded hope. But the beams of the Gospel have dawned upon
eyes; the hope of a better existence has penetrated his mind; the true light has lightened his soul; life and immortality have been disclosed to his view; Jesus Christ has banished the dark
; ness, in which he was enveloped; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new. He is conscious of another sense, of which before he was totally ignorant. It is faith. It brings to him the evidence of things which sight could not discern. It is the substance of things hoped for. It reaches to things unseen.
Now if his thoughts revert to the dead, he no longer deems them lost. They are not dead. They sleep. If he looks upon life, it is full of elevated bearings, of vast responsibilities, of infinite results. If to the grave, it is the beginning of existence, the gate of immortality. All nature now proclaims the traces of a Deity; and God in every thing is seen. Afflictions, and the darkest visitations and frowns, which are sent for the trial of his virtue, are met with the belief, and submitted to render the feeling, that “the storms of wintry “ time will quickly pass.” And all that is joyous, bright, and cheerful, whether in the dealings of Providence, or in the aspects of creation, carries forward the thoughts to those longed for scenes where happiness shall be eternal, perfect, and
unalloyed; “and one unbounded spring encircle " all.”
66 The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon
him, but the desires of the righteous shall be “ granted.” And if this be so, how shall we speak his folly and danger who, with the offers of grace and the benefits of the great salvation ever pressed upon him, continually resists the one, and neglects the other; is content to forfeit joys which once lost can never be regained; to live having no hope and without God in the world!
Christian, be thou animated to diligence and perseverance in working out thy salvation, by considering the transcendent privileges that belong to him whose fight is fought, whose course is finished, whose faith is kept.
Reflect upon the themes which have now been presented before thee.
Is it delightful, after a night of storms, to awaken and behold the new born day, to see the sun rising in beauty upon the expanded landscape, to hail the morning bright with promise? More delightful far shall it be to awaken from the grave on the morning of the resurrection, and the troubles and cares of life being past, to greet the rising of that day which shall never close, to behold that light which no darkness ever overspreads, and that sun which never goes down.
, Is it grateful, after the severities of a dreary winter, to inhale the air of spring, to feel the enfeebled frame refreshed by its gentle and healthful influence, to perceive the strength of youth actuating a-new the limbs, and invigorating and restoring all the powers ? More grateful and sweeter far will it be, when eternity shall succeed to time, to feel, on the risen body, the undecaying might of a spiritual existence; to be endued with celestial vigour; to go forth amid scenes of perennial health and blessedness; to flourish for ever in the courts of God most high; to be invested with eternal life ; and to realize, in the bright abodes of heaven, and throughout its everlasting spring, the high reward promised to patient continuance in well doing, “glory, honour, “ and immortality."
Without Hope, and without God in the World.
THE apostle, in these words, sets forth, verg briefly but very powerfully, the condition of those who are destitute of the light of Divine truth, and ignorant of the consolations of religion. They have no hope, and are without God, or, as the Greek rendering literally is, they are atheists in the world.
The primary application of the words is to the situation of pagan nations in general, and to that of the Ephesians in particular, to whom this Epistle was addressed, before they were enlightened by that knowledge of God wbich his revelation imparts. Nor would it be difficult to show from heathen testimonies which yet remain, that the description here given was as true as it is lamentable. In the language of Scripture, darkness and gross darkness every where prevailed;
and these not only shut out heaven and heavenly hopes, but also gave opportunity for the foolish heart and perverted understanding of men to set up, as the object of their worship, vain idols which could not profit; to do service unto those who, by nature, are no gods; to change the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things. Thus they retained not God in their knowledge, and so might truly be said to be without him in the world.
And this was not the case of barbarous nations, nor of ignorant times merely; but of the most cultivated people in the most enlightened periods of their history. For the Athenians, in St. Paul's day, when intending, as is most probable, to do homage to the God of the Jews, of whom they had heard—to him who is the only true God of all the earth, were yet so ignorant of his character and attributes, that they inscribed upon the altar which they had erected to his honour, the words, • To the unknown God”-a confession which plainly establishes the declaration that they, at least, were without God in the world—had no just knowledge of the perfections of him who alone is the object of adoration and praise.
And if such was the fact with those nations which possessed the greatest advantages of learning and knowledge, and had obtained the highest reputation for acuteness of mind, and refinement