Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

6 your faith, without wavering ;” and not only to be “ on the Lord's fide,” but to be active in his service, « rising up for him against the evil doers, and stand« ing up for him against the workers of iniquity.”

If we trace things to their origin, we shall find á thousand evils springing, not from ignorance, but cowardice. Pilate condemned a Saviour of whose innocency he was conscious, because of the Jews. Many of the Pharisees « believed on him; but feared to con“ fess him, left they should be put out of the syna“ gogue.” The disciples were afraid and forsook him, Peter trembled and denied him. It is owing to the influence of the same cause, that persons can hold the truth in unrighteousness; refuse to hear the very doctrines they believe ; change with every company in which they are found ; hear the name of God blafphemed and the Gospel vilified, and “ fit as men in

age will raise a man above this influence. It will produce in him a dignity which scorns every mean compliance; a firm dess which gives decision and confiftency to his characters a determination, not indeed to make singularity his aim, but to walk by those rules which will unavoidably render it a consequence ; a boldness to follow his convictions wherever they may lead him, and inflexibly to persevere in the path of duty, regardless of the reproach he may endure, or the losses he may sustain. · A second addition is KNOWLEDGE. And this very properly follows the former. It serves to characterize, and to qualify the courage of the believer. It reminds us, that it makes him open, but not oftentatious.

ready, but not challenging and vaunting ; decided, but not violent; bold, but not rash and inconfiderate. It teaches us that courage is a force which wildom is to employ. Courage may urge us to undertake the war, but judgment is to manage it. It may impel us along in our course, but knowledge is to oba , serve the road; otherwise our animation will only lead us astray; and the swifter our speed, the greater will be our folly.

And hence it will be easy to deterniine the nature of this qualification. It is practical knowledge; it is what we commonly mean by, prudence, which is knowledge applied to action. It is what Paul recommends when he says, “ Be ye not unwise, but understanding “ what the will of the Lord is. Walk circumspectly, er not as fools but as wise. Walk in wisdom towards “ them that are without, redeeming the time.” It is what Solomon enjoins when he says " let thine eyes “ look right on, and thine eyelids look strait before « thee.' Keep found wisdom and discretion ; fo shall “ they be life unto thy soul and grace to thy neck. " then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot “ shall not stumble. When thou liest down thou shalt “ not be afraid ; yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy 66 sleep shall be sweet." .

This kind of knowledge results principally from experience and observation, and he is blameable indeed who does not grow wiser as he grows older, and who does not make every day a correction of the former: Our own history affords us some of the best materials to improve and embellish our character. There, being heedless I was surprised. By that trifle I was rob

bed of tempeř. Here, I dashed on a rock and a plank faved me. Our rashness should teach us the meekness of wisdom. We should derive strength from our weakneffes, and firmness from our falls.

But, alas! what numbers are there upon whom the continuance of life, and all means of improvement, seem to be thrown away. They have eyes, but they fee not ; ears have they, but they hear not. They pass through a country full of instructive scenes, and interesting occurrences, but they travel in a hearse. And here many religious people seem peculiarly deficient; they perpetually remind us of the obfervation, " the children of this world are wiser in their generac'tion than the children of light." They are always roving from one public afsembly to another, and are never alone. They hear much, and think little. Even the kind of information they obtain, often serves only to draw them away from things of immediate concern, and to disqualify them for the duties of the stations in which they move. With their eyes stretched to the ends of the earth, or roving among the stars, they go on regardless of any thing before them, and fall over every stumbling-block in the road.'. * Whereas « the wisdom of the prudent is to under“ stand his way." “ The prudent man looketh well 6 to his going.” He draws down his knowledge from fpeculation, and uses it in common-life. He judges of the value of his notions by their utility. He ftudies his character and condition. He examines his dangers, his talents, his opportunities. He marks events as they arise, and has a plan to receive them. He' diftinguishes times, places, circumstances. He difcerns

both when to keep silence, and when to speak. He reproves with skill. He gives with judgment. He « approves things that are excellent.”

Thirdly. You are to avoid INTEMPERANCE. There is a sense in which this word may be applied to the mind as well as the body. For we are required to think soberly ; to keep all our passions within due bounds ; to moderate our desires to enjoy earthly pleasures, and our anxieties to acquire worldly poffeflions. Our Saviour therefore commands his disciples " to take heed lest at any time their hearts should be " overcharged,” not only “ with surfeiting and drunk6 enness, but also “ the cares of this life, and so that “ day should come upon them unawares.” The motive is as pertinent as it is awful ; for if we are to live in expectation of this important event, and are to be so habitually prepared for it as not to be taken by surprise when it comes ; it is necessary that we should be temperate in all things.

The word however principally refers to moderation: in satisfying our bodily appetites. But can it be needful to enlarge upon a subject like this in a Christian congregation ? Surely something far short of the pure and exalted system of the Gospel would be sufficient to restrain men from degrading themselves below the beasts that perish. Surely we need not interpose the authority of God, and reveal the misery he has prepared in another world, in order to keep them from being gluttons and drunkards. Against this, Heathenism exclaims ; Nature rises up; Health preaches. Intemperance is arraigned and punilhed here. It impoverishes our circumstances. It beggars our famiá

$$

[ocr errors]

lies. It renders the body lazy and fickly, and breeds all manner of diseases. It befots the mind, and stupifies reason ; it impedes with filthy crudities the way through which the spirits should pass, and bemires the foul so that it drags on heavily ; it unfits for every duty, and prepares for every sin. Surely one half of this is enough to make you flee all intemperance ; and to lead you not only to avoid the grosser excesses of this infamy, but to abhor every degree of approach to it. Shun therefore those “ whose God is their bel“ ly,and whose glory is in their shame.” Scorn the bondage of corruption. Disdain to be the slaves of a pampered appetite. Never advance to the bounds of things lawful. Beware of beginnings, and the excuses which would authorize them. “But put ye on the Lord Je“ sus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh to “ fulfil the lusts thereof."

Fourthly. You are to add to your temperance PATIENCE. There is an obvious and striking relation between these. The one requires us to bear, the other to forbear. The one regards the good things, the oth• er the evil things of the world. By temperance we are preserved under the smiles of prosperity, and by, patience we encounter the frowns of adversity. These two therefore furnish us “ with the armour of righ“teousness on the right hand and on the left.” And the one is as necessary as the other. For you will not be affailed from one side only. When the weather is fair, the road agreeable, and the adjoining groves and meadows very alluring, you are in danger of paufing and wandering ; but the storm driving in your face, and your feet sinking in deep mire where there

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »