Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ing, fiery furnace,' appeared with celestial splendour in the form of the Son of God. With the Apostles, it preached through the Roman world the glad tidings of great joy, which were announced to all people ; and proclaimed glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and good will towards men. From Asia it travelled into Europe; and even in the ages of darkness and superstition, found the cottage of piety and the cell of devotion, and sanctified them for its residence amid a world of corruption. At the reformation, it lighted the flame of virtue on a thousand hills, and awakened hymns of transport and praise in all the vallies beneath them.

From Europe it crossed the Atlantic with the little flock, which sought and found a refuge for piety in this immense wilderness, and smiled upon every sanctuary which they built, every church which they planted, and every sacrifice of prayer and praise which they offered up to God. With the Missionaries, who run to and fro to increase knowledge, it is now sailing back to Asia, again to shower its blessings upon regions long accursed with drought and sterility.

In these vast regions of the globe, and during this immense progress of time, it has never failed to visit a house where it was welcomed, nor a heart in which it could find a residence. To the feeble it has regularly imparted strength, and to the doubting confidence. To the solitary it has been the most delightful companion, and to the forsaken the best of friends. The eye of despondency it has illumined with hope, and caused the heart of sorrow to sing for joy. Wherever it has appeared, life and immortality have sprung to light; and faith, repentance, and holiness have become inmates of the breast. The heralds of salvation have proclaimed pardon, peace, and reconciliation with God; and the soul, lifting up its eyes, has, like the seer of Patmos, seen the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, prepared and adorned as a bride for her husband

Third, The love of Christ is unchangeable.

Before our Saviour ascended after his crucifixion, he said to his Apostles, and through them to all that should believe on him through their word, “ Lo, I am with you alway to the “ end of the world.” That Christians might not be at a loss concerning the application of this promise to themselves indivi. dually, St. Paul, quoting a promise of the same import, has taught every Christian to make it his own. “ Be content," said he to the members of the Hebrew church, “ with such " things as ye have; for he hath said, I will never leave thee for nor forsake thee.” To make them perfectly assured of the safety of relying unlimitedly on this promise, he subjoins in the third verse, following the proper character of the glorious agent who first uttered it, in this remarkable phraseology, So Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever” The promise, then, is unchangeable; and the love, by which it was dictated, is of the same unalterable nature. Accordingly, we see this promise fulfilled in its entire import at the present hour. The same Lord over all is now, as in every past age, rich unto all that call upon him. His providence preserves his church in the presence, and in spite of the persecutions of her enemies, and causes her cup to run over with blessings. He continues to Christians the word and worship of God; meets them still in his house and at his table, and communicates to them the blessing which descended originally upon Zion, even life for evermore. Still his Spirit renews the soul of man, guides the wandering, restores the lost, directs the perplexed, binds up the broken-hearted, feeds those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, and in all trials, dangers, and sufferings administers consolations which are neither few nor small. With the same love with which he ascended the cross, he watches over every one of his followers, however poor and humble, however ignorant and despised, with a heart that is

that never sleeps. Not one of their number is forgotten; and at the final day the name of every one will be found, written in the book of eternal life.

Fourthly, The love of Christ is immeasurably great.

“ The love of Christ,” says St. Paul,“ which passeth know“ ledge.” It is a love which has proved itself to be stronger than death—a love which affliction could not quench, which sorrow could not drown. This is evident, with a lustre irresistible, in the things which he has done, which he is doing, and

never weary,

with an eye

which he will do hereafter. It is unnecessary for me to recal on this occasion the things which Christ has already done. I need not exhibit. him to you on the cross pouring out his blood for the salvation of men, nor present him agonizing in the garden of Gethsemane, nor follow him to the tomb. What must have been the intenseness of that benevolence which could bring the Son of God from the throne of heaven to shame and agony, to the cross and to the grave ?

Less striking, I acknowledge, but scarcely less affecting, are the proofs of the same love in what he is now doing. There is something inexpressibly glorious to him, and beyond measure interesting to us, in beholding the Saviour of mankind, who “ has ascended far above all heavens, that he might fill “ all things," looking down, nay, descending from this stupendous greatness to the miserable world which we inhabit, to blot out the transgressions, and wash away the stains of a wretched sinner;: to renew a polluted soul; to shed upon

it peace passing all understanding ; to reunite it to the favour of God; to chase away its fears of future woe; to pour the balsam of life into its wounds; to illumine it with the beams. of hope; to conduct it safely through the trials and dangers of this melancholy pilgrimage; to bar the gates of perdition against its entrance; and to open for its reception the door of endless life..

The same character will be still more illustriously manifesto ed in what he will do beyond the grave. There he will make his followers sons, and priests, and kings to God. In other words, he will bring them into the intimate relation of sons, endow them with the sanctity of priests, and raise them to the glory of kings. As sons, they will love and will serve him throughout the ages of eternity with an intense and unalter.. able affection, and be regarded by him with infinite tenderness and complacency, As priests, they will offer up from the altar of the mind the everlasting sacrifice of praise to their boundless benefactor. As kings, they will live and reign with, him for ever and ever.

Fifth, The love of Christ will be eternal.
The truth of this declaration is sufficiently evident from the

last head. That which does not change is of course endless, and the importance of that which is endless, generally considered, need not now be explained. But there is one point of view in which it may be useful to examine this subject, brief as the examination must be. The events of this life are interesting to us on account of their number and variety, as well as their nature.

The nature of future events is generally, and perhaps I ought to say loosely, supposed to be important, as well as their duration. The Scriptures have every where spoken of them in exalted terms, and often in language of hyperbolical sublimity. Hence we are compelled to believe, or at least to imagine, that they must be important. Yet almost every where they are mentioned in phraseology so general, as to leave upon inattentive readers a faint and loose impression of their meaning. This impression has also been rendered more faint by the manner in which this subject has been customarily handled by preachers. These, even when men of great respectability and worth, may, I suspect, often be fairly numbered, at least if we may be permitted to judge from their writings, among the inattentive readers of this part of the sared oracles; for they certainly have done, in most instances, little more than to reiterate a few of the Scriptural exhibitions of this subject, in language even more general

, and far from being equally expressive. Little more is derived from most of them than that a future life is endless, free from sin and suffering, possessed of the favour of God, and fraught with love, gratitude, and praise to him, friendship to his children, and a general state of high and uninterrupted enjoyment. I do not intend, that these things are not in themselves pre-eminently important. They are obviously of the highest importance. Still I insist, that when holden out to the eye in this abstract manner, they strike it with little force, and leave behind them feeble impressions. To me it seems, that to act in the service of God, and to communicate good to others, constitutes, according to the Scriptures, one vast and glorious division of the celestial happiness usually left out of view in discourses on this subject. To me it seems, also, that both of what we are to be, and what we are to do, many more things are directly

VOL. I.

T

said, and those of a highly interesting nature than have been customarily supposed. From these, when we compare them with diligence and attention, a great multitude of other things, deeply interesting, may be derived by irresistible inference; more, I suspect, than will ever be imagined by him who has not seriously made the trial. To give a single example, those who obtain immortal life are said by our Saviour to be 'roãygehoi, equal or like to angels. This one declaration opens to us a wide field of inquiry and conclusion, and assures us, that whatever angels are or do, or are exhibited as being or doing in the Scriptures, we also shall substantially be or do. But the things which angels do, together with their attributes and circumstances, are, as exhibited in the Scriptures, very numerous and

very great, and these irresistibly infer others which are great and numerous also.

The number and variety of events which make up our system, hardly strike our minds at all, and probably never enter the imagination of most men, even among Christians. Yet, if we read the Scriptures with attention, and believe what we read, we must clearly discern, that both the number and the variety are immense. The inhabitants of heaven serve God day and night in his temple. The services of those, who in this life fill up their duty, are certainly very numerous, and are so entirely varied, that no two actions among them all are alike. How multiplied, then, must be the actions involved in a service which night never interrupts; of a mind and a body which are never wearied, and of an existence which knows no end. That they are endlessly varied is unanswerably evident from the consideration, that no two beings in the creation, and no two events in the Providence of God have been found exactly alike. Variety is a standing law of created existence and providential dispensation, and throughout eternity will be the great means of disclosing to the intelligent universe the glorious thoughts and purposes treasured up from everlasting in the Omniscient mind.

Instead, therefore, of being, if I may be allowed the phraseology, the tame, dull, spiritless existence sometimes presented to us, immortal life is a state of intense energy, vast design,

« AnteriorContinuar »