Imágenes de páginas

rest not in a mere notional faith. Lay aside the evil heart of unbelief. Venture not to amuse thyself with more speculation on the theory of Christianity, but lay firm hold of its substance, and flee from the wrath to come. Remember that thou art a sinner, unworthy of the love of God-wretched, and miserable, and blind, and poor, and naked. Confess thy transgressions unto the Lord; be broken down under the sense of them; and, well knowing that there is nothing in the fleeting scenes of this present life which can satisfy the aspirations of an immortal spirit, seek a sure refuge for a wounded and weary soul, in the hosom of Jesus. Cast thyself, just such as thou art, on the mediator between God and man, “ in whom are hid all the treasures," not only of “wisdom and knowledge," but of mercy, compassion, and love.

And, fear not to take his yoke upon thee. Obey the law of Christ, as it is written in Scripture, and as it is engraven on the heart. Follow the lamb " whithersoever he goeth." Be not conformed to this world. “ Be transformed, by the renewing” of thy mind, that thou mayest “prove what is that good, and perfect, and acceptable, will of God.” Proceed with a firm, steady, determined, step, from grace to grace, from strength to strength, and from holiness to holiness. Resign thyself wholly to him who has bought thee with a price. Finally, watch unto prayer-pray without ceasing—pray, and faint not. Then, although the cross of Christ will, at times, be difficult to bear-although mockery and persecution will occasionally fall to thy lot--although thy own infirmities will often oppress thee--and, although in hours a comparative darkness, Satan will not fail to rage, to tempt, and to buffet, yet, fear not, for God will be with thee. The “Shepherd of Israel” will guide thee with the crook of his love. During the whole course of thy pilgrimage he will be thy friend, companion, and protector. He will pour forth his Spirit upon thee. He will scatter all thine enemies. For “mourning,” he will bestow 6 the oil of joy ;" for “ashes,” “ beauty ;” for “ the spirit of heaviness," " the garment of praise;" for distress and conflict, the peace of God which passeth all understanding." And, in the end, (if thy faith shall have kept pace with knowledge, and thy virtue with faith) he will administer unto thee, through the blood of his covenant, a sure and abundant entrance into the mansions of rest and glory.

And now, in taking leave of the reader, I request his attention, in conclusion, to a very few general observations. He can scarcely fail to have remarked, in the first place, that of the whole system of religious truth, which we have now been engaged in contemplating, the turning point--the essential

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

hinge--is the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. For my own part, I freely confess, that the more intimately I examine the constituent parts of scriptural religion, and the longer I make them the subject of reflection, the more strongly am I brought to feel the importance of a simple reliance on the truth of that doctrine.

Allow, that Jesus Christ, who came into the world, took our nature upon him, and, in that nature, died on the cross to save us, was JEHOVAH himself—and the mind is insensibly prepared to embrace a just, comprehensive, view, both of our loss by nature, and of our gain by redemption. We are then, from the whole bearing and analogy of the case, almost inevitably led to entertain an adequate apprehension of the desperate nature of sin, and of the merited weight of its everlasting consequences. Then, also, are we brought to perceive, that Jesus is an all-sufficient Redeemer--that his blood, shed on the cross, was an ample price paid for the deliverance and eternal welfare of the whole human race; and that, by his Spirit, he is able so to illuminate, regenerate, and sanctify, the children of men, as to render them fit for the happiness of heaven.

But, deny the real divinity of Jesus Christ, and the consequence is this--that our sense of our loss on the one hand, and of our gain on the other, is immediately weakened. Our views of the corruption and guilt of man-of our own sinfulness, and of its future consequences become inadequate and obscure. Our conviction of the saving efficacy of the one great sacrifice is softened down, and gradually explained away; and our dependence upon the spiritual influence of the great Head of the church is effectually undermined. Reason and experience unite in proclaiming, that such are the effects of our degrading the Son of God to the rank of a mere creature; and the lower we degrade him in the scale of creation, the more conspicuous do these effects become. The disciple of Arius, whose unscriptural system imports (in point of fact) that Jesus Christ was a god, and yet a creature only, and not Jehovah, retains some considerable degree of attachment to the doctrines of the fall and redemption of man; but, that attachment can never be full and decided, because the foundation of such a faith is not the ROCK OF AGES. Socinus and his followers, who look upon Jesus as a mere man, but invest his humanity with powers far superior to those which really appertain to our nature, embrace in their religious views some faint traces of his divine government. The yet more modern freethinker, who hesitates not to declare his opinion, that Jesus, the man of Na

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

zareth, although a person of great virtue and endowments, was, nevertheless, nothing more by nature than such a man as the freethinker himself-bas no difficulty in discarding, and at times can even deride, the doctrine of human corruption—the doctrine of diabolical agency—the doctrine of eternal punishment—the doctrine of reconciliation with the Father, through the atoning blood of Christ—the doctrine of the regenerating and sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit.

These observations are offered, not in the spirit of polemical severity, but from a firm, unalterable, conviction of their justice and importance. To conceal the truth on such subjects is no true charity ;--it is not doing to others, as we would that they should do unto us. As there is an infinite difference between the Supreme Being and all the works of his hands, so it is plain that there is an infinite difference of opinion between those who believe that Jesus Christ is GOD and those who regard him only as a creature. It is a difference which admits of no compromise--a difference pregnant with vast consequences--a difference which Christian love may lead us to deplore, but never (according to my apprehension) to disregard or forget.

But, to reverse the picture, how numerous, how powerful, are those doctrinal points in religion, which are entertained in common by the great majority of the Christian world! One principal object which, in the laborious yet interesting task of composing the present volume, I have always kept in view, has been to develop these points of union. I have desired to show to my fellow-believers in the divinity of Jesus Christ, Roman Catholics, as well as Protestants--Calvinists, as well as Arminians-dissenters, as well as members of the various established churches-the strength, the breadth, and the saving efficacy, of those great features of Divine Truth, in which they all agree. May this main agreement-an agreement which embraces every thing absolutely essential in religionbe more and more accompanied by gentleness, kindness, forbearance, and candor, and, above all, by the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace !"

Finally, I would remark, that of this unity of the Spirit, founded as it is on an essential unity of do ne, one principal result ought surely to be, our joint and common, or at least our corresponding and harmonious, efforts, to promote the salvation of the world.

If we are taught of God to mourn over our own sins, we shall mourn also over the sins of mankind. We shall be humbled before the Lord, in deep sorrow of heart, when we reflect on

- They

the forgetfulness of their Creator, the falsehood, lasciviousness, malice, and cruelty, bloodshed, and idolatry, which are still so fearfully prevalent among the sons of Adam. But, every one who is brought to a right understanding of the Gospel of Christ, knows that in its doctrines, as they are humbly accepted, and practically applied, there is a powerful, remedial, principle, by which moral evil of every description may be counteracted and subdued. Let us then pray for the hastening of that day, when the dominion of Jesus shall extend “from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth ;” (Ps. Ixxii, 8;) for, under its influence, a mighty change shall still be wrought in the character and condition of men. shall beat their swords into plouglashares, and their spears into pruninghooks : nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more :” Is. ii, 4. 6. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling, together, and a little child shall lead them.... They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain (saith the Lord ;) for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea :" Isa. xi, 6–9. Then shall this moral wilderness become a fruitful field. “ The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice, even with joy and singing ; the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon: they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.... And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness ; the unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for those : the way-faring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon ; it shall not be found there ; but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and Zion, with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads : they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away :" Isa. xxxv, 1, 2, 8—10.


[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »